The Blacklick Creek Trail bicycle path in southeastern and eastern Franklin County is getting close to completion.
When finished, the 12 mile bike path will extend north/northeast from Three Creeks Metro Park in Groveport to Blacklick Woods Metro Park in Reynoldsburg. The trail will follow Blacklick Creek and wind its way to Pickerington Ponds, to Portman Park, through the Turnberry Golf Course, then go under I-70 and connect to Blacklick Woods. Along the way connections will be made with nearby subdivisions in some areas. The trail will also be handicap accessible.
According to Metro Parks landscape architect Bill Buescher, Metro Parks is funding the $6.1 million Blacklick Creek Trail project. An additional estimated $3.2 million, with 80 percent of the funding coming from the federal government, will be spent by the Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) to construct an 874 foot long bridge over U.S. Route 33 at Blacklick Creek to lift the bike path over the highway.
Buescher said about 7.5 miles of the 12 mile trail are completed with another 4.5 miles left to finish to connect all the sections of the route.
"We’ve bid a 1.1 mile section from Blacklick Woods under I-70 to Tussing to Turnberry," said Buescher. "It’s hoped that construction will begin on that section this summer."
Additionally, Buescher said a two mile section of the bike path from Tussing to Portman Park is now being surveyed.
Another .38 mile section will follow the road bed of old Shannon Road once a small section of that road is relocated near Winchester Pike. The relocation of the short section of Shannon Road to the east is being done to eliminate the hairpin curve in the road at Blacklick Creek just before Winchester Pike. This work is planned for sometime this year.
"Overall the Blacklick Trail project is moving along pretty well," said Buescher.
Bike path bridge over U.S. 33
Buescher stated U.S. 33 is "the last major barrier" for the bike path. He said ODOT plans to solicit bids for the bridge project, which would raise the bike path over U.S. 33, in late 2008 with construction of the bridge possibly starting in 2009.
Buescher said the clearance of the U.S. 33 highway bridge over Blacklick Creek is too low for the bike path to be built under the highway, as is done with other road bridges.
"The elevation of the road’s bridge is too low," said Buescher. "We would have to put the bike trail below the elevation of the creek bed in order to get under that bridge. It was determined it was cheaper to go with an overhead bridge over the highway."
Other features of the trail
Buescher said the Blacklick Creek Trail, when completed, will have six bridges, seven bridge underpasses, and one 60 foot long tunnel, located under Brice Road at Blacklick Creek.
There will also be three elevated boardwalks over wetlands and flood areas.
"We can’t impede the flow of water," said Buescher of the need for the elevated boardwalks.
Buescher said there will be "a lot of rest stops and some nice scenic overlooks of the creek" along the trail.
"On a hot day those shady rest spots will be pretty comfortable," said Buescher, adding "there are some very beautiful wooded areas along this trail with large, old growth trees in areas that weren’t farmed, especially west of Brice Road."
Buescher said bicycle trails are important because they provide people with safe access to exercise, let people connect with and enjoy nature, and provide a transportation option in these days of high gasoline prices.