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Plan for downtown, Mill Creek bike trail praised by bicyclists

Friday, January 20, 2017

By William K. Alcorn


Many area bicyclists, including several members of the Out-spokin’ Wheelmen bike club, praised the city’s effort to connect downtown Youngstown with Mill Creek MetroParks via a bike trail.

An overview of the $890,000 project was presented by Dominic C. Marchionda, city-Youngstown State University planner for the Regional Economic Development Initiative at a public input meeting Thursday in the Covelli Centre Community Room.

At its meeting Wednesday, Youngstown City Council passed legislation agreeing to supply the city’s $220,000 share of the project cost and authorized the city to file an application for a maximum $500,000 grant from the Clean Ohio Trail Fund.

The preliminary location of the Center City to Mill Creek Connector Trail would begin at South Avenue near the Covelli Centre, cross the Mahoning River to Mahoning Avenue via the Spring Commons Bridge, go north on North West Street, and then west on Tod Avenue to meet up with Mahoning Avenue at the Mill Creek MetroParks entrance.

Youngstown’s transportation network was built to move heavy manufacturing products. Now, the city is developing a knowledge-based transportation network, Marchionda said.

If the grant is approved, the Center City to Mill Creek Connector Trail would be completed in the spring of 2018. The city should learn the fate of the Clean Ohio Trail Fund grant in July, he said.

Council has been involved in the planning of the bike trail since the inception of the idea, said 1st Ward Councilman Julius T. Oliver, who attended Thursday’s meeting.

Oliver said the hope is that the trail will connect neighborhoods through biking and produce a safer, more friendly community.

“We want Youngstown to be more than a vehicle-driven city,” he said.

The bicyclists among the 40 to 45 who attended the session voiced some strong feelings they hoped the city, in filing the grant, would take into consideration.

Experienced cyclists said bidirectional trails and combination cycling and pedestrian trails are, according to one, “always a bad, dangerous idea.”

Also, the cyclists also asked that there be an educational component to the grant to educate drivers that bicycles are vehicles that have as much right to the road as motorized vehicles.

“I’ve had negative reactions from drivers quite often. Many drivers don’t yield to bicycles,” said Steven Duchene of Liberty, who often rides from Liberty to Boardman when the weather is good.

Lowell Satre, 74, of Youngstown, and his wife, Ellen, have ridden their bicycles across the country twice, in addition to cycling extensively around Youngstown and the area.

“We certainly welcome anything that supports biking. It gets people outdoors and noticing our environment,” the Satres said.