Work could begin as early as next year on a paved multi-use trail connecting the Olentangy Parklands with the Shops at Worthington Place.

Work could begin as early as next year on a paved multi-use trail connecting the Olentangy Parklands with the Shops at Worthington Place.

The 8- to 10-foot path would begin where the existing bike path ends in the parking drive to the Olentangy Parklands. It would follow along West Wilson Bridge Road to Old West Wilson Bridge Road, where it would become part of the roadway to the mall.

It then would wrap around the mall and connect to the sidewalk at Wilson Bridge Road and North High Street.

The path is the first step in plans to someday connect the Olentangy bike trail with the Worthington Community Center on East Wilson Bridge Road.

The city hurried to prepare preliminary plans for the western section of the path to take advantage of state grant programs. Applications for those programs are due Feb. 1.

The estimated cost of the path is $500,000, but the grant programs could cover most of the cost if the city's applications are approved.

The Clean Ohio Trails Fund has a grant program that funds as much as 80 percent, and the Recreational Trails Program funds up to 75 percent. The city could receive either, or a combination of the two, according to Worthington parks and recreation director Darren Hurley.

The Ohio Department of Natural Resources administers both grants.

If the applications are made, the city probably would learn about the outcome late next summer or early fall, he said.

Money is set aside in the city's CIP to cover Wilson Bridge Road corridor improvements beginning in 2013.

The trails are part of the Wilson Bridge corridor plan, which envisions the redevelopment of the east-west corridor, from the parklands to the railroad tracks on East Wilson Bridge Road.

Connectivity is an important part of the plan, and this trail is expected to help fulfill the vision.

It also would connect to the paths across I-270, as included in the I-270-U.S. Route 23 interchange improvement program. Construction on that is set to begin in 2014.

Private investment into uses ranging from offices to housing is seen as the major part of the corridor development.

The city decided to move ahead with the multiuse plan to show it is committed to the project, Hurley said.

About 30 residents attended a public unveiling of the plans Dec. 20. The reaction was positive, he said.

"We haven't had anyone oppose it at this point," Hurley said.