Springfield planning improvements to bike trails

Upgrades are expected to generate more traffic and provide an economic boost to Springfield.

The Ohio Department of Transportation is accepting public comments for the project, which is being paid for with federal Transportation Enhancement money.

The city will also provide a local match of about $45,000 for spot repairs to the three trails in Springfield, including the Little Miami Scenic Trail, Buck Creek Scenic Trail and the Simon Kenton Trail, said City Engineer Leo Shanayda.

“It’s a good time to get it done,” Shanayda said. “The existing trails themselves haven’t had any major work done to them since they were constructed.”

The project is expected to begin in August of 2017 and will include repairs to the pavement and the pavement markings along certain portions of trails, Shanayda said. Bids will go out next May, he said.

The project will be completed in about three months and resurfacing work will occur in phases. Some portions of the trail will be detoured for three to five days during construction.

“We’re going to start at one end of the trail fixing areas that we know to be bad,” Shanayda said. “We’ve pinpointed those locations and they’re throughout the trail network. … It doesn’t get everything done, but it puts us in pretty good shape.”

While the trails are very well-maintained by the National Trail Parks and Recreation District, the project is needed, said Mike Groeber, the President of Bike Springfield and a member of the Springfield Cycling Advisory Committee.

“Ohio winters do play havoc with stuff,” Groeber said. “It’s needed and I’m glad to see they’re on top of it before it gets bad.”

The National Trail Parks and Recreation District maintains about 20 miles of trail for both the City of Springfield and the Springfield Conservancy District. The district will often make minor repairs to the trails, such as sealing cracks, said NTPRD Deputy Director Brad Boyer, but it doesn’t have the funding to make major structural repairs. Thousands of people make use of the trails each day, he said.

“It’s difficult to maintain the properties we have with the current funding and resources we have,” Boyer said. “Any time the city is able to secure resources to help us provide additional maintenance to the trails is a huge benefit.”

The city approved a plan last year to increase bicycle usage in Springfield, seeking to boost tourism and promote alternative transportation. The Springfield Bike Plan addressed implementing a complete streets policy, Share the Road campaign and increased enforcement of cycling and traffic laws. Earlier this year, the Springfield City Commission approved the Cycling Advisory Committee. The city’s third annual Bike to Work day will be held on May 20.

The more options provided to cyclists could lead to more people spending money in Springfield, said Groeber, who rode the Ohio-to-Erie trail three times last year. Riders who use trails typically spend about $16 per day, according to the 2014 Miami Valley Trail User Survey Report.

“That’s what really is driving a lot of this,” Groeber said.

This summer, the $1.3 million Little Miami Scenic Trail extension will move the path off city roads and onto a dedicated trail. Construction began on the project earlier this year. Currently the dedicated bike path ends near the Interstate 70 overpass at Springfield-Xenia Road and then cyclists share the road with cars for about an eighth of a mile until they reach the dedicated path along John St. The new path will make it one contiguous, dedicated trail through the south end.

The Springfield Conservancy District is also planning to spend about $500,000 to extend the bike path underneath the Plum Street bridge, connecting Veterans Park and Snyder Park.

The Camp Chase trail system going into downtown Columbus will be finished this spring, he said. The recent expansion of the trail between Bellefontaine and Urbana will also bring more people to town this year, Groeber said.

“There’s a lot of people in Columbus who are dying to come this direction,” Groeber said. “They’ve been pent up in there neck of the woods for so long, they’re looking for new ground.”

With several new entertainment options in downtown Springfield, Groeber believes many cyclists will stop and spend money while they’re in town. It’s a perfect storm of adding new trails and improving the existing trails, he said, along with other trail systems driving people from out of town towards the city.

“The timing in Clark County and Springfield is perfect,” he said.

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