Bike trail in Bristol may reopen by July 4

Zachary Svette, operations manager for Trumbull County MetroParks, talks about the re-opening of the Western Reserve Greenway in Bristol.

BRISTOL — It’s hoped a portion of the Western Reserve Greenway bicycle trail that’s been closed well more than a year will be open again by the Fourth of July.

That’s because, said Zachary Svette, operations manager for Trumbull County MetroParks, the county finally has liability insurance coverage for the sandstone arch bridge over Baughman Creek in Bristol that closed in August 2015.

“We previously did not have liability insurance and if anything happened on the bridge, we would have taken the full brunt of any lawsuit,” Svette said.

The bridge — 25 feet high and 35 feet long — was built sometime between 1853 and 1864 by the Ashtabula and New Lisbon Railroad Company. Located on the section of the trail between Hyde Oakfield and Mahan Denman roads, the closure — marked now by large concrete blocks — has caused bicyclists to take a short detour.

“When I found it, I closed it. We needed to have it inspected, then found out what is wrong with it,” Svette said. “It stayed closed because we had no liability insurance.”

An engineering report done in October 2015 states the stone arch is in satisfactory condition, but sediment has been scoured from a portion of the embankment and the timber retaining walls are in poor condition and need replaced. The report states until the repairs are made, the trail can remain open.

“In the interim period until the repairs to the embankment are completed, we feel the bike trail can remain open for use but the embankment should be inspected frequently and immediately after any significant rainfall event,” states the report, done by MS Consultants Inc. in Youngstown.

Metroparks board member Curt Sauer, who is a certified engineer, said a state bridge inspector looked at the structure and gave it an “A” grade, and recommended it can reopen.

“This shows that we can open the bridge without concern,” Sauer said.

MS also recommends the bridge undergo an inspection every two years to “monitor its condition and safety.”

Svette said the bridge will ultimately need repaired and he has identified state funding sources.

However, “the local match is greater than what we can provide locally,” he said. “With all of the budget issues the county has been having, we have been reluctant to try to pull money from that direction.”

The cost to fully replace the structure is unknown, Svette said, but with engineering and construction, he can “safely imagine” the price tag being seven figures. The estimate to make the repairs, he said, is between $150,000 and $200,000.

When it’s reopened, the concrete blocks that stop riders from passing will be used to narrow the entrance to the bridge to allow pedestrian and bicycle access only, Svette said.