Another key component of the Ohio & Erie Canal Towpath Trail was dedicated Thursday during a “ribbon-tying” ceremony for the Tuscarawas River Aqueduct Bridge.
Another key component of the Ohio & Erie Canal Towpath Trail was dedicated Thursday during a "ribbon-tying" ceremony for the Tuscarawas River Aqueduct Bridge.
The 260-foot wooden bridge — off state Route 212 west of Bolivar — connects Tuscarawas and Stark counties.
"Bridges knit communities together and people together," retired U.S. Rep. Ralph Regula, a Republican from Navarre, said at the dedication. "This bridge will be enjoyed for years and years to come."
He said the bridge and the Towpath Trail would allows thousands of people to "experience the joy of the outdoors."
With completion of the bridge, the hiking and biking trail is nearly finished from the Tuscarawas County line to Lake Erie. The goal is to link New Philadelphia with Cleveland by 2020.
The section of the Towpath Trail from Bolivar to state Route 800 near Zoar already has been built.
Tuscarawas County Commissioner Kerry Metzger said the "ribbon-tying" theme was appropriate, because the Aqueduct Bridge "links Tuscarawas County with the rest of the Ohio & Erie Canal Towpath system."
He predicted the bridge will improve economic development opportunities for the northern part of the county. Businesses will follow the Towpath Trail into Bolivar, Wilkshire Hills and Zoar, he said.
It will also bring visitors to the area, who will spend money at local businesses and stay in local hotels, Metzger said. "It will benefit us immensely."
Commissioners will be working on two projects to help complete the trail – finishing the trailhead and parking lot at the Aqueduct Bridge and finding a route for the trail from the bridge to Bolivar.
The Aqueduct Bridge cost about $1.8 million to build, according to Bob Fonte, director for the Stark County Park District.
That money came from U.S. Department of Transportation Enhancement Funds secured by Regula while he was in Congress, the Ohio Department of Transportation, the Doris & Floyd Kimble Foundation, the Harold C. and Marjorie Q. Rosenberry Foundation, the Tuscarawas County Foundation, the Stark County Foundation, Super Fitness of Tuscarawas County, Roger and Judy Read, Mark's Place in New Philadelphia, the Chesapeake Foundation, Stark County Park District levy funds and the Ohio & Erie Canalway Coalition.
The bridge took five years to build, from design to construction, Fonte said. Hammontree & Associates of North Canton was the project designer, and Black Horse Construction of Norton built the bridge.
Tuscarawas County and Stark County will share maintenance costs, Fonte said.
"We're not done yet," Dan Rice, president and CEO of the Ohio & Erie Canalway Coalition, noted during the ceremony. "We're not done until you can get down to New Philadelphia."