- Michael Cooper Staff Writer
Local transportation officials will examine modifying a Springfield bridge and adding new bike trails to connect three Clark County and Springfield parks.
A traffic consultant hired by the Clark County-Springfield Transportation Coordinating Committee recently studied modifying the Plum Street Bridge to connect Veterans Park and Snyder Park. If completed, the project could cost about $250,000, officials said.
The consultant, Burgess and Niple, also recently completed a study examining where bike trails could be added to connect Snyder Park, Mad River Gorge Park and George Rogers Clark Park.
While the studies have been completed, no discussions have begun with local leaders or the public about either project, TCC Transportation Manager Louis Agresta said.
“It’s not obligating any political entity to follow through with (the studies),” TCC Chairman Elmer Beard said.
Plum Street Bridge
In February of 2016, the Springfield Conservancy District proposed spending about $500,000 to extend the bike path underneath the Plum Street bridge, connecting Veterans Park and Snyder Park and improving safety for pedestrians and bicyclists. The plan included building a bridge underneath the bridge, connecting to Snyder Park Road east of the whitewater area, conservancy district officials said.
However the bids came back too high and the project was stalled. The Transportation Coordinating Committee was asked by the conservancy district to examine making changes to the current connection at Plum Street, which residents have said for years is dangerous to cross.
“It may be fine for an able-bodied 30-year-old to get across Plum Street but if you’re an elderly person, a young child or anyone with disabilities, it’s not so (easy),” Agresta said.
The TCC commissioned the study in October to use the existing structure to save money, Agresta said.
The plan calls for widening the sidewalk on the west side of the bridge to accommodate a multi-use trail. It would also improve the sight distance for stopped motorists turning from Snyder Park Road to Plum Street. A combination bike and pedestrian trail crossing sign with flashers was also mentioned as a potential advanced notification device for motorists on Plum Street.
“They have different names, but they essentially serve the same purpose,” Agresta said. “It’s a linear park through Springfield. … They’re basically the same park.”
The Plum Street Bridge study cost about $31,000, TCC Director Scott Schmid said.
The Buck Creek Trail currently runs from C.J. Brown Reservoir to Veterans Park. Over the years, both cyclists and drivers have expressed concerns about safety at the Plum Street crossing from both directions, NTPRD Director Leann Castillo said.
“By having something that would slow the traffic down, we think it would be positive for pedestrians and bikes,” she said. “We have a lot of big events that happen there.”
As TCC’s bicycle and pedestrian planner for many years, Agresta said he’s been told of several ways to get to George Rogers Clark Park from Snyder Park.
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Last April, TCC and Burgess and Niple began exploring ways to extend trails to provide another way into Springfield for residents who live in western Clark County, he said. The trail extension study cost about $24,000, Schmid said.
“I don’t want to paint the illusion we’re going to have a George Rogers to Snyder Park trail anytime soon, but I think there are components that could happen sooner than others,” he said. “If we had a dedicated coalition that wanted it to happen, it could happen.”
It’s dangerous for walkers in that area with multiple state highways and heavily trafficked roads, including U.S. 68, U.S. 40, Ohio 4 and Upper Valley Pike, Agresta said.
“You can’t really get to Springfield safely unless you drive,” he said.
The study was broken down into three segments: Snyder Park to the Springfield Wastewater Treatment Plant, the WWTP to Mad River Gorge and the gorge to George Rogers Clark Park, Agresta said.
The study found several feasible ways to connect the three areas, Agresta said. No discussions have begun about purchasing right-of-way, detailed public involvement or design, he said.
“They are feasible but it doesn’t mean they’re politically accepted or that the city of Springfield would be on board, but they could be done,” Agresta said.
An abandoned railway at Mad River Gorge could be turned into a trail, Agresta said. The Clark County Park District owns right-of-way all the way to Old Mill Road, he said, and could apply for federal funding for the project.
“It’s a much more feasible thing we could see in the somewhere near future,” he said.
The full studies are available at clarktcc.com.
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