(08/22/08) - The regions system of
hiking and biking trails is another step closer to being completed, and Greater Akron is a
bit greener today with the official
opening of the Towpath Trail bridge over State Route 59 in the heart of the city.
this morning, partners from seven public entities cut the ribbon on the span to open the
new section of the 101-mile Ohio & Erie Canal Towpath Trail that will extend from
Clevelands Canal Basin Park near Lake Erie, south through Akron and eventually on to
Dover and New Philadelphia.
The $2.8 million project includes the bridge that runs east-west over Route 59 and was
built by Kenmore Construction Company. Funded by the City of Akron, Clean Ohio, federal
funds and the Knight Foundation, the bridge spans 270 feet and connects via tunnel to the
towpath as it moves north toward and under West Market Street.
"This is the new gateway for the towpath," said Mayor Don Plusquellic.
"This further establishes our vision of Akron being a city of neighborhoods within a
The bridge now connects---to the north---the towpath through the Cascade Locks Park and
to the south through the central city, behind Canal Park and beyond. And Akron is
currently constructing another section of towpath trail from the north end of Summit Lake
to Wilbeth Road. Part of that trail will actually float across Summit Lake as a floating
dock section. Most of the trail is on the ground right next to the canal, but the last
1400 feet at the south end of Summit Lake is actually on a floating dock section out in
the lake. The floating section starts at Lewis Street, goes under Kenmore Boulevard and
then gets back on ground about 500 feet south of Kenmore Boulevard.
In 2009, Akron will construct another section from Wilbeth to Waterloo Road and the
section of trail behind the Advanced Elastomer System building on South Main Street near
Todays ribbon cutting included Ohio Senator Tom Sawyer; Summit County Executive
Russ Pry; Keith Shy of Metro Parks, Serving Summit County; Dan Rice, Ohio & Erie
Canalway Coalition; Kimberlee McKee, Downtown Akron Partnership, and Bridget Garvin,
Cascade Locks Park Association.
Sawyer gave credit to Congressman Ralph Regula of Navarre in Stark County for his
vision, conceived 40 years ago as a dream to save the recreational and historical
resources of the Ohio & Erie Canal.
"Ralph Regula and Allan Simpson from the Canton Repository, nurtured, advocated
and championed the concept of saving natural resources," said Sawyer. "This
trail is a state and national resource that demonstrates the importance of promoting
conservation while stimulating community and economic development."
Dan Rice of the Ohio & Erie Canalway Coalition said this portion of the towpath
represents "one of the critical linkages along the 101-mile trail" and is a
"true example of regionalism" in action.
Keith Shy of the Metro Parks, Serving Summit County noted that, "Through the
network of trails and greenways, the people of the county are able to enjoy the full 3,200
acres of parks and open space that we are so fortunate to have."
Plusquellic echoed Sawyers comments about how natural resources can stimulate a
community. "These are magnets for businesses and neighborhood development. People
enjoy living and working close to nature," he said.
A partner in crafting development agreements to maintain two significant corporate
entities in Akron, Summit County Executive Russ Pry is also the coordinator for the Summit
County Trail and Greenway Plan.
Pry said Friday, "It is no mistake that both the new Goodyear World Headquarters
and Bridgestone Firestones new Research Center will include trail and greenway
elements so employees may enjoy the benefits."
The countys Trail and Greenway Plan links communities of Summit County with a
network of trails and greenways designed to create not only recreational opportunities but
to encourage alternative forms of transportation.
The ribbon cutting and bridge dedication kicked off Bike Week in the city of Akron.
Filled with activities that center on cycling, Bike Week encourages the use of two wheels
for recreation, fitness and as a form of transportation. You can learn more about Bike
Week by going to the City of Akron website: http://www.akronbikeinfo.org/.