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Business & Economy

New section of Olentangy Trail could take a year or more to finish construction

A bicyclist rides on the Olentangy Trail in Columbus.
Jo McCulty
Ohio State University
A bicyclist rides on the Olentangy Trail in Columbus.

Columbus wants to spend $10 million to connect two sections of the Olentangy Trail in Clintonville.

The project would create bridges and a boardwalk across the Olentangy River at two points, diverting the path off of the roads it currently runs on in that span. Columbus City Council has approved the funding for the project with 60% being covered by state and federal grants.

When bikes, runners and rollerbladers reach Clinton Como Park about five miles into the trail heading north, it suddenly turns into a street. After several turns and a crossing at North Broadway, you reach Northmoor Park.

City Planning Manager for Recreation and Parks Brad Westall said the new route will cross the Olentangy River on bridges and a boardwalk to bridge that gap.

"We'll begin construction sometime late this summer, around late July or August. And construction is going to last. It's intended to last one year. But, you know, that's an estimate," Westall said.

Westall said one of the best parts of this project is that the trail will only detour slightly, causing minimal disruption to riders and runners. He said at Clinton Como Park, the detour will shift riders to the east side of the park, compared to the west side that the trail runs along.

Westall called the current route the trail takes "convoluted."

"For a trail as busy as the Olentangy Trail, which carries, by our count, over a million users a year, it is very difficult to put that density of both walking or biking traffic, mixing with motorists, on residential streets, stop signs, lights and so on," Westall said.

The city is entering into a contract with Complete General Construction Company for the Olentangy Trail project.

The trail will still cross North Broadway and be much closer to busy sections of the street near State Route 315. The city said the trail will use an enhanced bike and pedestrian crosswalk and signal in that area. The trail travels south along the river behind the Ohio Health Campus.

It will use boardwalks in environmentally-sensitive areas and cross the river to Clinton Como.

Construction is expected to begin later this year.

George Shillcock is a reporter for 89.7 NPR News. He joined the WOSU newsroom in April 2023 following three years as a reporter in Iowa with the USA Today Network.