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The Columbus Dispatch (Ohio)
A new bridge over the Olentangy River to connect the Arena District to the busy Olentangy Trail. A trail connecting a Northeast Side neighborhood to a library and the Alum Creek Trail. A new park in the Southgate neighborhood along South High Street.
That's what $788,421 in state grant money is buying in Columbus. The Ohio Department of Natural Resources recently awarded the grants to the city's Recreation and Parks Department.
The projects will connect neighborhoods to the regional trail system, said Tony Collins, Columbus' recreation and parks director.
The 276-foot-long bridge across the Olentangy River Downtown will connect the Olentangy Trail with Nationwide Boulevard. The state awarded $485,000 for that project, said Brooke Betit, a spokeswoman for the Ohio Department of Natural Resources. The total cost will be $1.9 million.
The Olentangy Trail is the busiest in the state, one popular not only with those bicycling for pleasure or exercise, but also for those commuting Downtown from Worthington, Clintonville and the University District.
Developments sprouting along West Nationwide Boulevard near the connector include new headquarters for Ruscilli Construction. The multimillion-dollar project also will include more offices and 300 apartments.
On the Northeast Side, a connecting trail will be built on an old railroad right-of-way from the Alum Creek Trail and Hayden Park west to Brentnell Avenue. The state grant is $248,000; the total cost will be $401,000. About 1,700 people live within three minutes of that connector.
The route runs just north of and parallel to East 5th Avenue.
Tiffany White, who leads the North Central Area Commission, said the route also will help residents who don't have cars travel from one point to another.
Lisa Daris, executive coordinator for the Ohio to Erie Trail group, said her organization supported the project on the Northeast Side, near the Shepard neighborhood, because it connects to the Alum Creek Trail. The trail is part of the 300-mile-long system that connects Cleveland and Cincinnati through Columbus.
"Any time you have a designated, nonmotorized path, it's a good thing for the community," Daris said.
Daris said about 20 miles of the Ohio to Erie Trail are yet to be completed, including portions in Cincinnati and Holmes County in northeast Ohio.
The remaining $55,000 will help pay the $198,000 cost for a new park in the Southgate neighborhood.
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