Columbus soon will be a half-mile closer to creating 22 miles of a continuous multiuse trail extending from Three Creeks Metro Park north to Westerville.
City Council, at the request of Mayor Michael B. Coleman, approved legislation June 2 that will add a half-mile pathway on the Alum Creek Trail from Innis Park to Easton Town Center.
It is one of the final two pieces that ultimately will complete the regional greenway that extends 8 miles to the north and 12 miles to the south of the gap.
"The completion of this trail is among the top priorities of our cycling community," said the mayor, through his spokesman, Dan Williamson. "It will improve the quality of life in this community, and I can't wait to ride my bike on it once it's finished."
The $1.6 million project includes one stream crossing of Alum Creek and a smaller bridge over a tributary.
Next month, council is expected to authorize payment for the final link of the trail, estimated to cost $6.2 million. That 1.1-mile piece would extend from Interstate 670 to Mock Park.
"Once we get that piece, Alum Creek is done," said Alan McKnight, director of Columbus Recreation and Parks.
Construction of both projects should be concluded by spring 2015.
The completed trail will put thousands of residents in touch with schools, parks and employment as well as Ohio Dominican University.
The trail will provide a significant increase in pedestrian and biking safety for a large sector of Columbus as almost one-quarter of the city will be within minutes of a major north-south trail.
The Alum Creek Trail has been 15 years in the making. McKnight said that's not unusual.
When recreation and parks officials look at developing a trail along a corridor such as Alum Creek, officials need to either own the land the trail is built on or obtain the necessary access from property owners, usually in the form of an easement.
For example, the proposed 1.1-mile link goes through land owned by Ohio Dominican University, which took a couple of years to negotiate, McKnight said.
"The Alum Creek Trail is starting to get more use, but some people don't use it because it is interrupted," he said.