ANDOVER — The long-awaited Pymatuning Valley Greenway Trail is making some headway, but it will still be a number of years before bicyclists can cruise on pavement.
Local officials gathered Friday at the Andover Village Hall where they touted a grant of more than $1.2 million, which will be used toward the design and construction of a portion of the trail.
Metroparks Executive Director Larry Frimerman said the Ohio Department of Transportation Alternatives Grant will help pave about 3.5 miles of the trail. The first phase will pave from the Andover Village Hall to Leon Road.
“Just this stretch alone is a $2.125 million project,” Frimerman said.
The trail will ultimately run from the Pennsylvania state line through Dorset and connect to the Western Reserve Greenway Trail, a stretch that is more than 25 miles. The Metroparks have owned the land where the trail will exist since 2003. It was was originally a rail line.
“These things take a long time,” Frimerman said.
The trail will provide a great opportunity to make more connections within the county, Frimerman said, but also to Pennsylvania. It’s also an effort to bring more people to South County, he said.
“All of this will be a part of the Industrial Heartland Trail which will essentially go to Jamestown, Pittsburgh, Clarion and other places,” Frimerman said.
Marie Lane, vice president of the Ashtabula County Metroparks Board, said the project has been “such a long time coming.”
“We are so excited about connecting our county,” Lane said. “We have the largest county but sometimes we seem divided. This is another method of keeping us all connected on one path.”
State Rep. John Patterson, D-Jefferson, said since he has been in office he has worked to get the project moving and connect the Industrial Heartland Trail.
“There are five states that will be connected — New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, West Virginia and Kentucky,” Patterson said. “The key link, the most important link between [those states], runs right through Andover. This is a link that we’ve wanted to complete for a long time.”
Frimerman said it will likely take more than a decade until the entire Pymatuning Valley Greenway Trail is completely connected to the Western Reserve Greenway Trail. Construction on the first phase could begin in early 2021 and be completed some time in 2022, Frimerman said.
For years four-wheeler riders have used the existing path and of late a petition has begun to circulate in an effort to allow ATVs on the new trail. Andover police Chief Chris Baker said it has always been illegal for four-wheelers to ride on the property, but the law has never been enforced.
However, the four-wheelers will not be allowed on any new trails either because acceptance of the federal grant dollars comes with the condition that four-wheelers be prohibited.
“The grant comes with restrictions,” Frimerman said. “It cannot be used for motorized vehicles. It can be used for snowmobiles with six-inch or better snow pack or horses without horseshoes.”