A statewide trail is inching closer to completion, and Delaware County is an important part of the connection.
An open house was held Jan. 7 at the Galena Village Hall to discuss paving 2.2 miles of trail right of way for the Ohio to Erie Trail (OTET). According to the local organization Delaware County Friends of the Trail (DCFT), “the section to be paved will connect to the south end of the Meredith State Trail, which ends near Condit. Preservation Park is applying for a Clean Ohio Trail Fund grant, and plans to complete the paving project in summer of 2020.”
The grant is administered by the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR).
DCFT would like to see the 16 miles of trail in the county become connected on the map in a solid line, instead of the dotted segments there currently are. They’re working with other agencies that manage the separate parts of the total trail, such as Preservation Parks of Delaware County.
Matt Simpson of Preservation Parks said during the open house that an application to ODNR for $500,000 had been sent by the Feb. 1 deadline, and they’ll know whether they get the grant this fall. The local match would be $170,000. The next round of applying would take place next year. If all goes well, the paving could be completed by the end of 2021.
“Trails go as far as you can and then you do the next section,” Simpson said.
Simpson said it costs about $2 million to build 3 miles of trail. In contrast, it costs $1 million per mile of paved roadway.
Various local agencies administer portions of OTET where they’re located, with their own signage and trailheads. For example, there is the Heart of Ohio Trail, which runs from Centerburg to Mount Vernon in Knox County.
Preservation Parks manages three segments of the Ohio to Erie Trail (OTET): Hoover Scenic Trail on Plumb Road in Galena; Meredith State Road Trail on County Line Road in Centerburg; and Sandel Legacy Trail on South Vernon Street in Sunbury.
The Sandel Legacy Trail may be better known to longtime Sunbury residents as the Big Walnut Community Trail. It runs 0.6 miles along a former railroad bed, and features a former depot called the Trailhouse that is used for public open houses by the Delaware County Model Railroaders group. The Hoover Scenic Trail, opened in 2010, is 0.6-miles long to Weise Road, goes through the Hoover Nature Preserve (owned by Columbus) and connects to the Genoa Trail, Char-Mar Ridge Preserve and goes to the Westerville Depot. Lastly, Meredith State Road Trail is a 1.6-mile segment from Condit Station to the Delaware-Licking County Line, but it is not connected on either end to the OTET.
During the open house, officials from Sunbury and Galena said two proposed developments consisting of 500 homes would connect the two villages with a paved trail. However, sewer lines would need to go in before the developers return, and there’s nothing on the horizon.
Delaware County Friends of the Trail wrote in an email, “The Ohio to Erie Trail is a primarily off-street recreational trail that, when completed, will span the state of Ohio from Cincinnati to Cleveland. For the most part, it follows land formerly occupied by railroads and canals. The trail connects four of Ohio’s metropolitan cities, a dozen large towns and numerous small villages with connected, easily accessible, paved trails.
“The trails are used by bicyclists, hikers, skaters, families with strollers, bird watchers, and others wishing to enjoy them. As of 2016, the Ohio to Erie Trail consists of 280+ miles of paved trails separated from streets. Ultimately, the trail will be about 320 miles long, once all segments are completed.”
That would make it one of the longest paved trails in the country.
“Someday, we may all be connected,” said William Daehler, President, Board of Directors, Ohio to Erie Trail Fund.
For more information on the Ohio to Erie Trail, visit http://www.ohiotoerietrail.org
Gary Budzak may be reached at 740-413-0906 or on Twitter @GaryBudzak.