Westerville News & Public Opinion

Bridge is new 'key piece' of Ohio to Erie Trail

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Westerville's first pedestrian bridge over a roadway is open for use by cyclists and walkers alike.

The city put nearly five months of work and just shy of $1.9 million into the bridge, which provides a path over County Line Road between North State Street and McCorkle Boulevard.

The project was funded partially by grants, and $500,000 came from the Clean Ohio Trail Fund grant from the Ohio Department of Natural Resources.

The bridge officially opened with a ribbon-cutting ceremony Friday, Aug. 1. Westerville City Councilwoman and Mayor Diane Fosselman, Planning and Development Director Karl Craven and Mary Fitch from ODNR gave short speeches to a gathering of residents, officials and cyclists eager to use the bridge.

"Westerville prides itself on being a city within a park," Fosselman told the audience, noting the importance of the bridge to those walking or biking in Westerville.

The bridge is situated at nearly the center point of the Ohio to Erie Trail, which, when complete, will stretch across the state from the Ohio River in Cincinnati to Lake Erie in Cleveland and -- at more than 300 miles -- will be the longest paved off-road trail in the United States.

Its passage through Westerville runs along the Westerville Bikeway and connects to the south with the Alum Creek Trail.

Craven said the city looked at routing the trail's traffic a different way or even adding a tunnel before finalizing plans for the pedestrian bridge. And while it was a major undertaking, the bikeway and bridge's placement along an existing right of way from an old railroad line helped expedite the process.

Fitch, while speaking to the audience, said the connection to the statewide trail helped the city earn the ODNR grant.

"(The bridge) is a key piece of the Ohio to Erie Trail, which scores well with our grant program," she said.

Because of additional construction on the trail, including a connector to downtown Columbus and various connections through the state, Fitch noted that within 12 months, the trail will connect to downtown, and within 36 months it will fully connect to Cincinnati.

Despite being about 90 days behind schedule, Fitch said the relative ease of the project is a positive indication for the trail's progress.

"That is really a great success story for a project like this," she said.

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