Articles, Enrichment, Political

City Council Introduces New Bike Path With a Hefty Price Tag

[dropcap]A[/dropcap]thens City Council introduced a new ordinance on Monday night that would secure a project agreement for the construction of another Athens bike path, which is projected to cost $1,425,000.

The bike path would run from Armitage to Columbus Road and would be approximately 1.1 miles long, according to Councilwoman Michele Papai.

Despite the hefty price tag, residents of Athens would not endure any increase in taxes.

Funds awarded to the city from the federal government and the state would only partially cover the fee.

“The federal government is giving upwards of $735,000. We got a state grant for $550,000, so we add that up and then the city will be responsible for the rest,” said Papai.

The bike path is just a portion of the city’s Bicycle and Pedestrian Master Plan, and has been in the works for at least six years, said Papai and Councilwoman Chris Fahl.

“There was no good way to connect to that side of Athens because of the river. It was a geographic problem. The federal government agreed that in terms of accessibility it was a way to connect,” added Papai.

Because the path would be crossing a river, the creation of a bridge would be necessary.

“There is a lot of design work and it’s going through wetlands and over a river,” said Papai. “The major expense is the bridge.”

The passing of the bike path ordinance would secure plans to build, however, the layout and design are still in the works.

Papai stated that the path would allow bikers to avoid the middle of town and, instead, head straight to the park. “It opens up the options,” she said.

“We think it’ll just be another accessible recreational area,” continued Papai. “We hope to develop an area for parking and that kind of thing – long-range plans.”

Papai hopes that the bike path plan will be completed by fall of next year.

The Athens City Council also addressed the recent fire that occurred on West Union Street early Sunday morning, giving many thanks to the overwhelming amount of support and assistance received from surrounding cities and the Athens community itself.

“I want to give a large thanks to our business community in general…and our citizens of Athens,” said Councilman Steve Patterson.

According to a news release issued today by the city, the investigation of the fire is complete but the cause of the fire has yet to be determined.

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