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Mayor Paul Wiehl (right) and other city officials cut the ceremonial ribbon at the dedication of the new bike path spur at West State Street Park on Monday, September 19. This new bike path spur connects the bikeway at the park to a rehabilitated railroad bridge crossing the Hocking River.

Athens unchains new multipurpose bike path


With a cut of a ribbon, city officials rolled out the results of a the four-month “master plan” geared toward expanding county-wide bike paths and hiking trails in Athens.

The last leg of the newly-extended bike path was added to the Bicycle and Pedestrian Master Plan at noon yesterday. About a dozen residents and students attended, including Mayor Paul Wiehl.

The extended bike path connects the bikeway at West State Street Park toa railroad bridge that crosses the Hocking River. The bridge was recently rehabilitated by D V Weber Construction,

In late spring when construction began, the project was partially funded by a Recreational Trails grant, which was administered by the Ohio Department of Natural Resources. The grant paid for 80 percent of the $130,000 of expenditures, said Andy Stone, director of engineering and public works.

“We were particularly interested in the project because of the availability,” Stone said. “The grant really helped with the expenses.”

This project is the first phase of two in a larger bike path extension project planned for the Athens area.

Changes to the existing path include an additional 21 miles, which was created in the hopes of promoting cycling to Athens residents.

With the new construction, Athens will also have approximately 16.7 miles of bike lanes.

“Our intention was to create a multipurpose path for people interested in walking, biking or hiking,” said Athens County Commissioner Larry Payne.

Officials sought environmental benefits, as well, with the expansion of the bike path. The master plan encourages Athens residents to use the path as much as possible to cut motorized transportation.

The most common distance an average person bikes to work is two miles, according to the Bicycle and Pedestrian Master Plan. The plan also states that almost 60 percent bike more than four miles for exercise.

“There is though considerable room for improvement in providing safe, convenient and attractive facilities for pedestrians and bicyclists,” the master plan states. “While there have been significant improvements to the physical environment in recent history, there are still many additional opportunities at hand.”

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