Cleveland’s Collaborative Towpath Trail Soon to Appear on the Horizon

Sat 8/26 @ 2PM

The notion of linking the Towpath Trail to downtown Cleveland has been talked about for years, but plans are soon to be underfoot with four different phases linking up the popular recreation path that starts in New Philadelphia and ends 100 miles to the north at Harvard Avenue.

To celebrate the Towpath Trail’s innerbelt presence alongside Scranton Road, Canalway Partners has staged The Towpath Stomp Sat 8/26 @ 2pm behind Sokolowski’s University Inn. Visitors are encouraged to walk the new section of the Towpath Trail to Hart Crane Park, which is located at the corner of Columbus Road and Merwin Avenue. There will be live music from Brent Kirby, Rachel Brown and Ray Flanagan, as well as food from Sainato Restaurant and Catering and beverages from Great Lakes Brewing Company.

CoolCleveland talked to Cuyahoga County Department of Public Works Towpath Trail Senior Project Manager Jessica French about the Towpath plans and the Towpath Stomp.

Where are we at regarding the completion of the Towpath Trail?

Right now we’re well underway. Things started to come together around 2009. The city of Cleveland, Cleveland Metroparks, nonprofit organization Canalway Partners and Cuyahoga County signed a project development agreement, which laid out the responsibilities of the agencies. Cleveland will be the property owners, responsible for all capital maintenance in the future on the Towpath Trail from Harvard Avenue all the way to downtown. The Cleveland Metroparks has day-to-day operations for the Trail. Cuyahoga County is responsible for managing the actual construction project. Then Canalway Partners is involved with much of the programming, which includes things like the Towpath Stomp.

How significant was it to get the four entities together to finish the Towpath Trail?

This isn’t done very often, this kind of cooperation. You have the four agencies managing the design as well providing funding. So this is a very unique project in Northeast Ohio to do this kind of trail. With all of this input, it makes it a better Trail because you have different sides coming together.

Tell us about the current status and future of the Towpath Trail.

Right now it ends at Harvard Avenue. From there to downtown Cleveland the estimated cost is $54.7 million. That includes the environmental work, property acquisition, design and construction of the Trail and greenway. There are four phases. Phase 1 is from Harvard Avenue to Steelyard Commons. Right now, we’re in the design phase going to construction next year. Realistically, it’s usually an 18-month construction period, so construction should be completed by 2020. Then we have Phase 2, which is Steelyard Commons itself. That was done privately by that development to connect to Phase 1. Also, that’ll go underneath the tunnel, which leads us to Phase 3 going from Steelyard Commons to Literary Avenue. That’s under construction and it will be completed the fall of next year. And Phase 4 goes from Literary Avenue to the future Canal Basin Park. The construction of Phase 4 will start in 2019 with a completion in 2020.

Tell us about the Towpath Stomp.

It gets people excited about the Towpath Trail, as well as the opening of the Innerbelt Bridge section that was completed by ODOT. It was part of that whole project. If you go down to Sokolowski’s University Inn, you can get on the Trail right there. You’ll go underneath the innerbelt bridge and end up kind of parallel to Scranton Road. That’s the section was completed in 2014. And that was done by the Towpath team. We were lucky enough to get some money to acquire that property, restore it to some natural habitat. We also created a fish habitat in the river, which is unique as well because this river is still used for industry.

Finally, after being talked about for what feels like decades, the Towpath Trail seems like it’s close to coming to fruition.

It’s an amazing project and has been well thought out and well-planned. Anyone can throw a bunch of asphalt on some ground and call it a trail, but really this is a linear park with a transportation facility in the middle of it to give the user a great experience.

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