A new shared-use path designed to better serve a variety of activities and people with disabilities is expected to be open in Northam Park this month.

The $276,836.73 project began May 11 and is expected to be completed this month, weather permitting.

"The shared-use path will have better mixed uses, including walking, bicycles, strollers and wheelchairs," said Emma Speight, Upper Arlington community-affairs director. "This will allow park users to have a better loop system in the park and neighbors to use the sidewalk as a connector to neighboring streets."

The project replaces a 4-foot-wide sidewalk in Northam Park along Northam Road, from Tremont Road to Andover Road, with an 8-foot-wide multiuse path.

Jackie Thiel, city engineer and public-services director, and Jeff Anderson, parks and planning development manager, said in a Feb. 3 staff report to Upper Arlington City Council that the old sidewalk was narrow and uneven in places.

In addition to a wider surface, the 2,400-linear-foot path will feature crosswalks and "safety improvements," that report stated, including diagonal crosswalk markings and high-visibility signage.

Several parking spaces adjacent to the crosswalks also are being removed. The new path won't change the park's layout.

While some trees along the old sidewalk were expected to be removed because of the work, city officials promised trees would be planted along the new path this fall and will result in a net gain of trees for the park.

During the work, access to the park has been restricted from Northam Road, but Speight said access will be restored upon completion.

"This project restricts access into the park from Northam Road and eliminates the current loop walking path while construction is underway," Speight said. "However, the end result will allow for a much-improved walking path.

"Programs are not impacted since the shared-use path is on the peripheral of the park."

Seven Upper Arlington parks already have multi-use paths spanning 4.88 miles, as well as a path on Tremont, from Zollinger Road to Fifth Avenue.

Debbie McLaughlin, parks and recreation director, said they include Burbank (0.32 mile), Fancyburg (0.64 mile), Northam (0.66 mile), NW Kiwanis (0.93 mile), Reed Road (0.56 mile), Sunny 95 (0.62 mile) and Thompson (1.15 miles).

In proposing the Northam project to council in February, Thiel said the city wants to expand its path system, typically in conjunction with other park renovations, to accommodate "multimodal transportation," including pedestrians and cyclists, Thiel said.

The Northam path is the only new one being planned for 2020, but the city also will expand sidewalk connections with a new sidewalk on Mountview Road, from Fishinger Boulevard to Zollinger.

The Northam path will connect to the Tremont multi-use path that extends from Northam Road to Zollinger.

"This path then continues on Zollinger Road, from Tremont to Northwest Boulevard," Thiel said. "Additionally, this path connects to existing sidewalk on Andover and Northam."

The city also is designing upgrades for Northam's athletic fields and tennis complex, and the new path could be extended in the future.

"This (upgrade designs) project is considering options for better connections to the existing park uses and may include some level of expansion to the existing network," Speight said.

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