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1. Cleveland Flats Greenway Secured

"The long-held civic dream of linking neighborhoods along Cleveland's Flats to the Cuyahoga River and Lake Erie with hike-and-bike trails just took a big step forward.

"The Trust for Public Land, a national nonprofit land-conservation organization based in San Francisco, announced Monday it closed a $3.2 million deal to preserve 1.3 miles of abandoned rail bed on the west bank of the Flats for a future trail network. The transaction, completed Wednesday, transferred ownership from Earl Walker, a Cleveland investor and former Cuyahoga Community College professor, to Parkworks, a nonprofit organization that aims to turn a chunk of urban archaeology into a major public amenity.

"We just feel terrific about having this vision last year and realizing it over the past 12 months," Parkworks director Ann Zoller said Monday.

"Parkworks, which plans public spaces in Cleveland, unveiled its concept for the west bank of the Flats in January, along with Cleveland Public Art and Building Cleveland by Design. The Link to the Lake Trail, as the project is called, will one day connect Wendy Park on Whiskey Island to the Ohio City and Tremont neighborhoods." Read more and view a map of the proposed greenway.

See another article and audio file on this acquisition. And yet another audio file here.

Another article, posted on 12/29, here.

2. Orrville To Clinton Trail Corridor Acquired

"Rails-to-Trails of Wayne County Friday announced the land acquisition for the long-contemplated trail that will run from Orrville to Clinton. The abandoned railroad corridor, which was acquired from Norfolk Southern Railroad, starts at the north end of the Orrville Industrial Park, continues through the Village of Marshallville and ends in Clinton for a distance of about 8 miles.

"Don Noble II, president of Rails-To-Trails of Wayne County, said Friday, "We are extremely pleased to have been able to work with Norfolk Southern Railroad in securing this property for a future rail-trail. I would personally like to thank NS for their cooperation in the purchase process."

"Characterizing the right-of-way as "a beautiful corridor that will make a wonderful trail for all to enjoy for generations to come," Noble said he is "very excited" about the coming development that he expects to take between two and five years, at a cost of between $70,000 and $100,000 per mile.

"One of the best things about the corridor, Noble said, is that the three bridges along it all remain intact and appear structurally sound. While he said work would have to be done on the decks to make them suitable for riders, he said no preliminary cost projections have yet been made.

"Noble said the trail to be developed will have some unique features, including farmland near Orrville, a stone cut just north of Marshallville, an elevated portion through a wooded area, and wetlands just to the west of Clinton." Read more...

This announcement has spurred complaints and concerns from some landowners along the corridor as well. Expect to see pro and con news reports as this corridor is developed.

3. Cyclists Pushed Out Of Cleveland Bridge Project

"City cyclists feel they're getting the metaphorical middle-finger when it comes to asking for fair, safe access to Cleveland roads. That sentiment surfaced Friday at Cleveland City Hall, where about a dozen cycling advocates expressed disappointment with the Ohio Department of Transportation's plan to nix a bicycle/pedestrian lane for the upcoming Inner Belt project.

"ODOT officials, at a city planning commission meeting, presented final plans for the project, which will take two decades to complete and cost an estimated $3.5 billion. ODOT Project Manager Craig Hebebrand says highway bike lanes — at a price of at least $20 million — are not financially feasible in the eyes of the state and the Federal Highway Administration. Instead, Hebebrand unveiled an alternate route that caters to Tremont bikers who want to get to Gateway and beyond: an improved Abbey Avenue to West 20th Street to the Lorain-Carnegie Bridge.

"Improvements would include creating 5-foot bike lanes and sidewalks on the Abbey Avenue bridge, Hebebrand says. These upgrades would cost about $800,000.

"Cyclists with ClevelandBikes, a local advocacy group, say this alternative route still has significant safety issues, such as on-street vehicle parking. Advocates say similar bridges, including one in Charleston, South Carolina, were built with bike lanes, so why not here?

"Cyclist Alex Nosse says the planning process disrespects cyclists and pedestrians, turning them into second-class citizens by forcing them to go out of their way. Advocates merely want a dedicated bike lane, they say, and have no interest in disrupting high-speed highway traffic." Read more...

Since this controversy began, bicycling advocates and groups have rallied to attempt to change the bridge design before it takes affect. As of Feb.4, 2010, ODOT is still saying no to amending its plan.

4. Toledo Passes '3-Feet' Law

"If you're driving down the road and you see someone on a bike you now have to make sure you're 3 feet away.

"Texting while driving was on the agenda for [Toledo] city council [Tuesday] night, but it was a different transportation proposal that became law. The new law on the books is aimed at keeping Toledo roads safe. It's for those in cars and those on bikes.

"If you're driving down the road and you see someone on a bike you now have to make sure you're three feet, one full yard, away.

"Stacy Jurich rides her bike on a regular basis. "It's efficient. You don't have to pay for gas. You get a good work out." Read more or watch the video report.

Ohio and a number of other states are presently considering adopting the '3-feet' law.

5. Heart Of Ohio Trail Open

Dave Beck, with the Knox County Park District, sends word on the trail construction from Centerburg to Mt. Vernon:

"The Heart of Ohio Trail is now open between Centerburg and Mount Vernon as the last two bridges west of Mount Vernon were recently replaced. The trail is currently gravel but will be partially paved in the next couple of years with grant monies that have been secured by the Knox County Park District."

To learn more about this leg of the Ohio-to-Erie Trail, visit the Knox County Park District web site.

6. Tallgrass Trail Report

"...On Aug. 20, the Marion County Park District purchased 12 miles of abandoned rail corridor from CSX for $332,800. This land will become the Marion Tallgrass Trail. 75 percent of the cost came from grants, with the remaining 25 percent provided by local donations.

"The purchase capped 10 years of negotiations between the park district and the railroad. During this time, the railroad changed ownership several times and adopted tough environmental restrictions on land sales. Speaking of the Marion County park district, Eric Oberg of the Rails to Trails Conservancy said, "This small park district has done an outstanding job in working with CSX, and is a model we intend to use to help others."

"Construction has begun on a parking lot at the four-acre trailhead park on Holland Road, 1.7 miles west of Marion. Contractors have laid a gravel base and will soon add asphalt pavement. Construction should begin on a trailhead building in late 2009, using a grant from the Ohio Department of Administrative Services." Read more...

The Tallgrass is the first trail project in Marion County.

7. Rail Cars Serve As Trail Bridges

"Bridges are a costly need for rail-trails, many of which cross streams, roadways and even other rail corridors. After engineering and installation quotes were obtained from a precast bridge supplier for bridges along Ohio’s Moonville Rail-Trail, the reality of the extremely costly challenge became clear. So when members of the trail’s nonprofit group heard that old flatbed rail cars might be available from the federal government’s Gaseous Diffusion Plant near Piketon, Ohio, a light bulb went on and calls were made. The rumor was true: some rail cars were available to eligible entities, including nonprofits.

"Over the next few months the trail group expressed its interest, then waited, worried and wondered what needed to be done to get the cars to their corridor. Moonville Rail-Trail President Neil Shaw finally got the call in August and was informed that three cars were ready for pick-up." Read more...

8. Cincinnati Begins Bike Plan

"Cyclists in Cincinnati are now longer just spinning their wheels when it comes to getting more bike paths. Thursday night, Cincinnati began working with neighbors on a multimillion dollar master plan. It's the first such plan in more than 30 years.

"The city is spending around $5 million to overhaul bicycle routes citywide. Almost $4.5 million will go to expanding the Ohio bike trial. And $300,000 is expected to be spent on bike trails along the banks Downtown. Another $270,000 will be spend on enhancements like bike racks, news signs and "sharrows," the markings on roads that remind drivers to share the road with bicyclists." Read more...

9. Floating Trail Open

Here's a recap on the recent ribbon cutting for the newest section of towpath trail at Summit Lake in Akron.

10. Holmes County Trail Gets Final Link

"The Holmes County Park District signed an easement agreement that will open four miles of former railway to development of the Holmes County Trail.

"The perpetual easement, purchased from the Helen Taylor family, gives the Holmes County Park District access to the entire 29-mile trail, from Fredericksburg south to Brinkhaven.

"This is the last piece of the puzzle, so to speak," Park District Director Jen Halverson said. "We now have the entire railbed, either through ownership or by easement." Read more...

11. CVNP Trail Assessment

"Many of the most avid users of the Cuyahoga Valley National Park are clamoring for more trails, especially for mountain bikes. It's possible that the National Park Service will grant those wishes, too -- but not for a few years, and only if its experts see no harm in expanding trails and uses.

"The Park Service just kicked off a two to three-year study of the 22,000-acre park's trails, their condition and whether more are needed. It's the first time in 24 years that park officials have undertaken such a review, which is a prerequisite for any trail changes beyond minor ones.

"The initial step in a long process: an informal survey of about 90 outdoor-activities clubs, local governments and other "stakeholders." Trail-study leader Kevin Skerl, a Parks Service ecologist, sent them out in August and asked for responses by Sept. 15." Read more...

12. CVNP Launches 'Trails Forever' Fund

"The Cuyahoga Valley National Park is kicking off a new program to fix, restore and expand trails. The National Park Service and the Cuyahoga Valley National Park Association, a friends-of-the-park group, are starting Trails Forever.

"The goal is to raise a $10 million endowment by 2016, and the interest income on that money would fund the park's trail work, said Paul Stoehr, acting superintendent for the 33,000-acre federal park between Akron and Cleveland." Read more...

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