Government

City to Develop Trail Linking Mill Creek Park, Downtown

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – City officials expect to select an engineering firm next week for a proposed hiking and biking trail connecting Mill Creek MetroParks with downtown Youngstown, the city’s chief engineer said Thursday.

At its meeting Thursday morning, the city’s Board of Control approved a grant agreement between the city and the Ohio Department of Natural Resources for the Center City to Mill Creek MetroPark Connector.

The multi-use trail will run from Fellows Riverside Gardens to the Spring Common Bridge at the edge of the central business district, said Charles Shasho, deputy director of public works.

The project is in its early stages and construction likely would not get under way until spring 2019, he said.

The city’s share of the estimated $500,000 project, which includes a paved path, road markings and improved lighting, is $125,000, he said. The local match will come from the $5 auto license fee.

The city requested RFQs through April 13. “We have a number of qualified candidates. I expect to have one selected by next week,” Shasho said.

“There’s always been talk about connecting Mill Creek MetroParks to the downtown,” said Bethaney Krzys, safety program manager for Eastgate Regional Council of Governments. “This particular grant seemed a good way to do it.”

City officials have coordinated with Eastgate on the proposed biking and hiking trail. The regional planning agency coordinates the Ohio Department of Transportation’s efforts to develop a statewide network of bicycle routes in Mahoning, Trumbull and Ashtabula counties.

Two additional phases also are being considered, one extending the pathway to the site of the riverfront park and amphitheater being developed along Front Street and the other advancing north along Fifth avenue toward Youngstown State University and St. Elizabeth Youngstown Hospital.

The park-to-downtown bikeway originally was included as part of the city’s request for a Transportation Infrastructure Generating Economic Recovery, or Tiger, grant for the Fifth Avenue corridor and area surrounding it. The project did not receive funding.

“The Tiger grant really wasn’t focused on that recreational tie so we decided to leave that off,” Krzys said.

The Fifth Avenue bike-hike path will be included in the application for a grant from the Better Utilizing Investments to Leverage Development program. That hopefully will provide funding for features such as bike lanes, transit pull-offs and other features, Krzys said. The deadline for the grant application is next month.

Pictured: Eastgate Regional Council of Governments safety program manager Bethaney Krzys with a map of the biking and hiking trail.

Published by The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.