On the right path

WARREN – Cycling enthusiasts soon will be able to ride the majority of the Warren Greenway Bike Trail.

“The second phase of the bike path will be completed in July,” Paul Makosky, Warren’s engineer, said this week. An estimated $1.8 million is being spent on this phase, which is being done by Marucci & Gaffney out of Youngstown.

Crews have been working most recently at the Ohio Central Railroad bridge south of Woodland Avenue N.E. and in the area of Charles Avenue and East Market Street S.E. Once complete, it will connect to the first phase via Paige Avenue.

“We are about 75 percent complete with the second phase,” Makosky said.

The Warren trail is a portion of the 100-mile Great Ohio Lake to River Greenway Bike Trail that when finished will begin on Lake Erie in Ashtabula and travel south through Trumbull, Mahoning and Columbiana counties to the Ohio River.

The first phase of Warren’s trail was completed in 2010 at a cost of $1.5 million; that section runs from the Northend Park Trailhead at the corner of Fremont and Idylwild N.E. to North River Road.

Work at connecting the upper portion of the 3.9-mile Warren Greenway Bike trail with the 14.6-mile Western Reserve Greenway Bike Trail in Champion is expected to begin later this year with an engineering study.

Actual construction of the connection between North River Road and Champion Avenue East could begin in 2014.

Connecting the trail to Niles is not expected to begin until 2020, again depending on the total costs and the local contribution.

About three miles of Warren’s trail is on a path created especially for it and about nine-tenths of a mile is on city streets, primarily on Paige Avenue.

Over the 10 years it has taken for the trail to be built, the city has had to obtain easements or purchase 10 to 15 properties, Makosky said.

“On the northern portion of the bike trail, the city did not have a clearly established rail corridor to follow,” Makosky said. After several preliminary trail path suggestions, it was determined to use the path across Paige Avenue. The city had to obtain permission to use Ohio Edison’s right-of-way for the trail. The city also worked with Warren Township to complete a portion to the path.

“This took the cooperation of a number of entities to get done,” Makosky said. “I know there was some concern early on about safety on the bike trail, but it has been warmly received by the community. The results has been well worth the effort.”

Meanwhile, Niles officially opened its Niles Greenway Bike Path in October 2012. The project took nearly 10 years to complete and connects to the trail that runs through Weathersfield and into Mahoning County.

It has yet to be determined where the Warren and Niles trails will meet.

The first option would construct the path from the south end of the Warren trail at Burton Street S.E. south along the abandoned Baltimore and Ohio / Pennsylvania Lines Railroad for four miles to the north end of the Niles Greenway.

While the tracks are abandoned on the Warren side, train activity on the railroad bed in Niles present possible issues with this plan.

The other three options involve use of city, state and county roads.