Champaign County Engineer’s workers upgraded the paving on the north section of the Simon Kenton Trail bike/multi-use path from state Route 296 to Lippincott Road on Tuesday. Engineers said they were laying down two layers of gravel on top of tar to form a double layer of chip-seal to the existing gravel base, and that a similar project done last year had held up very well to the weather.
All phases of the Simon Kenton Pathfinders chip and seal project have been paid for entirely by donations from the community without using taxpayer money. The first phase involved creation of the dirt trails, the second phase was the gravel base, and the third phase is ongoing.
While 3.2 miles of trail were paved on Tuesday, an additional five miles are planned in Logan County to be completed by the end of August. This, according to Simon Kenton Pathfinders vice-president Jim Cook, will leave only a 3.6 mile unpaved gap along the whole bike path from Urbana to Bellefontaine.
Cook said the Pathfinders hope to raise the $28,500 needed to complete the two-layer paving by August 31. Future plans for the bike path involve adding another layer of hot mix asphalt that is expected to cost over a million dollars and to be facilitated by state and federal grants. Cook said that he was eager to complete the current phase of paving this year in order to begin applying for the grants necessary for the final phase next summer, but added that the county engineer’s workers performing the work were subcontracted by his organization and that no local tax money was being spent on the bike trails.
“There’s quite a lot of economic impact from the trails that benefits all the communities connected by them,” Cook said. “The trails generate $13.4 million in economic activity, and 16% of trail users are from outside the Miami Valley and spend locally. Then there are the bike repair shops and sporting goods stores that do business with people who are using the trails. It amounts to a lot of local economic activity generated just from these trails, and we just want to keep people aware of what is available to them.”
He added that the Logan County Chamber of Commerce had plans to extend the bike trail up to Indian Lake, but that was beyond the scope of the Simon Kenton Pathfinders, who are focusing all their efforts on completing the paving.
To donate to the repaving effort, please visit www.simonkentonpathfinders.org or the Simon Kenton Pathfinders’ Facebook page.
Christopher Selmek can be reached at 937-508-2304