Thursday, December 27, 2007

OSU to FINALLY Fix Olentangy Trail

There is joy in Mudville today, folks. Ohio State has "Found the money" to fix its section of the Olentangy Trail, the most utilized multi-use path in the state.

Here's the article from the Dispatch:

OSU says it now has the cash to fix trail
Wednesday, December 26, 2007 3:11 AM
THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH
Paul Lehman was glad to hear Ohio State University announce that it would finally upgrade the stretch of the Olentangy Trail that runs through the campus.

The Upper Arlington man pedals home from his job Downtown on the trail, carefully avoiding the potholes, narrow paths and blind spots along the university's portion.

"One wrong bump and you're over the edge," said Lehman, 60, who's been commuting by bicycle almost every workday for 15 years.

William Shkurti, OSU senior vice president for business and finance, said last week that the university has set aside $1.7 million for the three-phase project. He said he and university President E. Gordon Gee recently met with a group of bicyclists to discuss the future of the project.

"Over the last couple of weeks, we have been looking for funding sources, and I told them we now had identified the sources to move ahead with all three phases of the plan," Shkurti said.

The trail stretches about 14 miles between Worthington Hills and Downtown and is considered the busiest in the state, according to Columbus officials. It is popular with bicyclists, joggers, walkers and skaters.

Columbus, Worthington and Ohio State are responsible for maintaining the portions of the trail on their turfs.

Lehman said the cities generally have done a good job of maintenance. It's on the 1 1/2 miles through Ohio State where most of the problems arise, he said.

The university released the three-phase plan for improvements on the trail in 2005. It said at the time the first phase could be completed this past summer.

Instead, the university shut down the trail for about three months to upgrade an electrical substation, which services the Medical Center and the rest of campus.

Lehman wasn't surprised by the delay. Take a look at the new buildings and other recent construction at Ohio State and, he said, "It's obvious the bicycle trails are not the highest priority."

In late August, the university said it would begin the $420,000 first phase next spring. But university officials had acknowledged that they still did not have money for the rest of the project.

"I get these arguments all the time: 'How can a $4 billion institution not find money for this?' " Shkurti said. "And one of the things both I and Gordon explained to the bike group is we are supportive of this, but we also have unmet maintenance needs in our classrooms and our laboratories, so it is not just like we have money that grows on trees."

The first phase will connect the trail on the south side of Woody Hayes Drive to the elevated levee path that runs south to Drake Union. The levee path also will be repaved.

In addition, a new portion of trail will be extended south along the river from Woody Hayes to an incline that connects with the levee path near Drake.

That phase could be completed by fall, said Stephen Volkmann, OSU landscape architect.

Volkmann said the third phase, from John H. Herrick Drive to just south of the substation, probably will be done in 2009. The second phase, in the middle from Drake to Herrick, also might be done at the same time, Shkurti said.

It's the portion in the second phase that is the worst, Lehman said.

"We want to find out what the design costs are for Phase 3 and see if that leaves enough money to do Phase 2," Shkurti said.

Lehman said he hopes there is enough money for Phase 2, which he called the worst portion of the trail because of blind spots and the narrow path, which is too close to a cyclone fence around the substation.

tdoulin@dispatch.com

As predicted, OSU's attitude about fixing this frustrates me a bit. They obviously don't see this as a responsibility to the community around them, and rather as the complaint of a student group.

But it's going to get fixed. At least, it seems it will be. We'll see. I'm not holding my breath, to be honest.

People, not speed.

2 comments:

  1. I hope you'll forgive me for not holding my breathe on this. I'm imagining at best a resurfacing of what's there with no actual concern for the fact that part of the path is underwater much of the year nor the blind corners. Good thing Tressel is making $1M+ a year because we all know the only thing Columbus needs is a football team.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I wouldn't hold it either. OSU's track record on doing things for the community around it is not good. But we shall see. The new commuter biking group at OSU is pretty tenacious.

    ReplyDelete