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Commissioners take steps to extend Towpath Trail in Tuscarawas County

ms consultants, inc.

February 10, 2022

Commissioners have hired MS Consultants, Inc., for engineering and design services for the next extension of the Ohio & Erie Canal Towpath Trail in Tuscarawas County.

 

The company will be paid $118,388 to design a 2-mile stretch of the trail from Old Zoarville Road to Dover Dam in Fairfield Township. 

 

Five companies submitted proposals for the contract.

 

In addition, commissioners on Wednesday authorized the Tuscarawas County Park Department to apply for the 2022 Ohio Mid-Eastern Governments Association (OMEGA) Regional Transportation Planning Organization Capital Allocation Program for $100,000.

 

The money, if awarded, would be used to help pay for engineering, design and construction of the trail extension.

 

When completed, the Towpath Trail will extend from Cleveland to New Philadelphia. Currently, the trail has been finished as far as Zoarville. 

 

Tuscarawas County has a license agreement with the Kimble Co. to build the trail on an unused rail line from Zoarville to the dam.

 

Jesse Rothacher, park manager, told commissioners that the deadline for the OMEGA grant is Feb. 18, and the grant will likely be awarded in late March or early April.

 

Commissioner Kerry Metzger asked if there was a limit to the number of grants that could be awarded per county, because County Engineer Joe Bachman has applied for the same grant, seeking up to $250,000 for bridge replacement projects.

 

"There is not, to my knowledge, a limit per county," Rothacher said. "There is a maximum pool of funding, so that could be coming into play with competition."

 

The park department has already been awarded several grants for the project, including $483,000 from the Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) Transportation Alternatives Program (TAP) and $10,000 from the Ohio & Erie Canalway Association for engineering and design costs. 

 

The Friends of Tuscarawas County Parks, through private donations and grants awarded by the Timken Foundation and the Haman Family Foundation, has raised $65,000 to cover the the ODOT TAP local match and anticipated construction costs over the TAP award.

 

Rothacher said the county's OMEGA application has strength behind it, because groups making these awards like to fund projects that are ready to go.

 

"If everything goes according to plan, we could see construction of this begin next year, in 2023," he said. "When you look at all the other funding that we've secured for this project in both phases, I think it makes a very strong case that if successfully funded, they would be able to see immediate results."

 

Commissioner Al Landis noted that he had discussed the trail Monday during a casual meeting with Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose.

 

LaRose told Landis that he and his family like to ride bicycles on trails, and LaRose asked about the progress in Tuscarawas County. 

 

"I told him it was a priority and it is moving forward," Landis said.

 

The secretary of state told him that many people from outside of Tuscarawas County come here to use the trails. 

 

"He was very complimentary of what we've got done so far, and he's anxious to see it finished, as are we," Landis said.

 

Originally published by the TimesReporter.