The Johnstown end of the T.J. Evans bike path will get a facelift in late spring.
The Mary E. Babcock Foundation has agreed to fund the more than $56,000 project that will begin in late April or early May, according to Village Manager Jim Lenner.
"The village of Johnstown, Downtown Johnstown Inc. and the Babcock Foundation share a vision to beautify and promote the trailhead at the T.J. Evans bike path, located between Jersey Street and Douglas Street in the village of Johnstown," Lenner said.
He said the Johnstown trailhead project, which involves repaving and striping the trailhead parking lot, would take roughly 30 to 60 days to complete. The project will allow the public to more easily locate the T.J. Evans bike path through the updated trailhead entrance, he said. Visitors will be able to find clearly marked parking spaces, and the improvements will provide a more aesthetically and safer feel to the area, he said.
Lenner said the project also would complement the village's involvement with a national bike route project involving U.S. Route 50.
U.S. Bike Route 50, proposed by the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials, runs through Franklin County but features alternate routes, including a path through Johnstown.
"The alternate route would run north out of Westerville on the trail that follows the old railroad bed along state Route 3 up to Galena, down Sunbury Road on the other side of Hoover Reservoir and east on Center Village Road into Licking County," according to Delaware County engineer Chris Bauserman.
Once in Licking County, the route connects with an existing bike path that runs from Johnstown to Newark.
The U.S. bike routes are designed to connect scenic, cultural and historic destinations in the communities they traverse.
"To my knowledge, nothing needs to be built, but it's a matter of connecting existing infrastructure and completing a bike route designation," Bauserman said.
Adventure Cycling will chart the main and alternate routes through central Ohio and provide pocket maps to customers. According to ODOT, the company's sales of pocket maps for cyclists have grown by 42 percent over the last decade.
ODOT estimates show cyclists generate $47 billion a year in communities that provide facilities to such tourists.
"The village of Johnstown remains committed to maintaining their part of the bike path from Jersey Street to Concord Road," Lenner said.
He said the deteriorating bridge was replaced at a cost of $2,200. The service department provided snow removal during the winter months and will continue mowing, routine trash pickup, trail clearing, brush control and asphalt maintenance during the coming months.
"(The trailhead project) wouldn't have happened without the foundation's support," Lenner said. "It's going to be a great community asset."
Mary E. Babcock Foundation board member Mary Thomas said she hopes the foundation could do even more in the future to beautify the trailhead, such as landscaping and improved signage.
"We've really pushed on this project, too," she said. "We're hoping to do a lot more down there."
She said the T. J. Evans bike trail and trailhead are important to the community, and it's unfortunate that the trailhead has fallen into disrepair. She said the foundation is happy to help.
"We're glad to do that because that's what we do," she said.
Thomas said she hopes Johnstown community members and organizations aren't afraid to contact the foundation for assistance when such projects are necessary.
"People have to ask," she said. "And if we can, we will do that."
ThisWeek reporter Bill Eichenberger contributed to this story.