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$1 million bike path for Milan

By Michael Harrington • Jun 8, 2019 at 4:00 PM

MILAN — As Norwalk officials consider whether to pursue a $1.6 million multi-use trail that would connect the reservoir and recreation center, a neighboring community is going ahead with its own plans for a connector path.

The Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) has agreed to spend nearly $1 million to help Milan Township achieve a longtime goal of connecting the village to Edison High School. The bike lane will run along Ohio 113 starting just before Berlin Road and end at the school, located at 2603 Ohio 113.

“I’m a lifelong Milan resident and ever since the high school moved out to the township there’s no real way to access it beyond driving because it’s too dangerous to bike or walk,” township trustee Mike Shover said.

The trustees contacted Carrie Whittaker at Erie County Regional Planning who was able to get things moving with the department.

“She has been very helpful and it was through her that we able to get to ODOT to send five engineers to look at,” Shover said.

After walking the length of the proposed bike lane the engineers decided it was doable and the department agreed to cover the entire cost of widening the road to the Milan Township Offices. The township will then construct a path to connect it to the village.

“Connecting the high school and village is something I, and everyone else I’ve spoken to, have wanted for a long time,” Shover said.

The township plans to construct a nature path at a cost of about $100,000 from Edison Park to the bike lane to bypass the narrow Berlin Road and the culvert on Ohio 113.

“A nature trail through the woods at Edison Park would be an additional park amenity enjoyed by residents for years to come,” trustee Dan Frederick said.

The project will not only make it easier to access the high school, but it will also make it safer for the student athletes who regularly run down Ohio 113 for practice.

“A bike path through Milan Township which connects Edison High School to the Village of Milan would substantially improve safety along the busy stretch of Ohio 113 for student athletes, recreational bikers, runners, and passing motorists alike,” trustee Dan Frederick said

The project has the support of Edison Local School District with superintendent Tom Roth saying it would make a much safer traffic pattern for new drivers and students who walk or bike to school.

Erie County Sheriff Paul Sigsworth also expressed support of the bike lane and said he believed it would “greatly enhance public safety.” Several Milan residents have also expressed support through letters and posts on social media.

Shover said construction of the bike lane is slated for 2020-21 when the department plans to repave Ohio 113.

As for Norwalk’s project, ODOT is offering a $1 million grant to help fund the 10-foot wide concrete path that would stretch slightly more than 2 miles and cross two bridges and a ravine. The path would connect Veterans Memorial Lake Park to the Ernsthausen Community Center, allowing pedestrians and bicyclists to travel the entire span while crossing only four streets.

This week, city council discussed the financial ramifications of Norwalk fulfilling its obligations with the grant. In April 2018, when city council gave the go-ahead to apply from the grant, the matching part was $150,000. Now, that figure could swell to $615,000 in the worst-case scenario, according to Norwalk Mayor Rob Duncan and interim public works director Wally Ritchie.

Because the grant wasn’t awarded until February, the city hadn’t budgeted for the matching money.

On Tuesday, council postponed the proposed legislation to appropriate the money. 

The next day, Duncan said his administration is trying to obtain more funding and get extensions for the next phase of the grant process.

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