Updated Fri, Oct 26, 2012 5:32 pm
Officials are asking the public to help fund repairs on the Hockhocking Adena Bikeway, a 20-mile rail trail that has connected Athens, The Plains and Nelsonville for more than 15 years.
“We’ve had roots grow underneath the path and push up the pavement, cracks, drainage problems and erosion from the Hocking River. It’s slowly starting to damage the path,” said Bob Stroll, chairman of the Bikeway Advisory Committee.
Athens county allocates about $3,000 each year to cover the cost of maintenance on the aging path, but officials say some problems are just too expensive to fix.
"What's going to be needed in upcoming years is resurfacing, and kind of like what happened this year was a slip. It was a major problem. There was an erosion on the river bank and so that runs into thousands of dollars," said Larry Payne, Athens County commissioner.
The damage can cost tens of thousands of dollars if neglected, so the advisory board is encouraging the public to help financially support their efforts to fix and maintain the path through a new donation program.
"You've got less money for maintenance and a higher requirement by the bikeway for maintenance," said Bob Stroll, chairman of the Bikeway Advisory Committee. "So you've got kind of a perfect storm there, and that’s the purpose of the donation program -- to supplement some of those public funds."
Payne said 100 percent of the funds donated will be used for the bike path. He said the donation fund will need to generate between $5,000 and $10,000 per year to fully maintain the bikeway.
One bicyclist says she thinks the donation program will be well-received by others who use the path.
"I definitely think it's worth donating to. I think a lot of students and local people would be willing to donate because [the bike path is] such a part of campus and anyone can use it. You can use it anytime during the day." said Becca Fischer, a recreational bicyclist.
Generating money for repairs doesn't rest on Athens County alone. The city of Athens, the city of Nelsonville, Hocking College and Ohio University also own stretches of the bike path and they, too, need to help with the bills.