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Contract signed for Belpre trail project

The next step in the Belpre Township Trail Acquisition project has been taken with the signing of the contract between the Washington County Commission and Palmer Engineering.

The contract is for the right of way acquisition of the CSX property between Collins Road and the Little Hocking River, which is approximately 1.65 miles.

The work that Palmer Engineering is contracted for will take up $116,019 of the total budgeted $250,000, which was awarded through the Transportation Alternatives Program. The project is 95 percent funded with federal money and 5 percent matching funds from the Belpre Area Multi-Use Trail Committee.

Kelly Cox, trail committee president, said the matching funds have come from several sources, including the Marietta Community Foundation, the Belpre Community Foundation and the Parkersburg Community Foundation.

“They’ve been trying since 2017 to buy the property,” she said.

Washington County Commission President David White said the commission is purchasing the property on behalf of the Belpre Multi-Use Trail.

“We’re just accepting the grant money and handling the financial aspect of it,” he added.

Kenyon Cox, committee member, said after the CSX portion of the trail is finished, about five miles in Washington County, from the Little Hocking River to the Ohio River, remain to be developed.

“We hope to go over the Parkersburg-Belpre bridge into downtown Parkersburg,” he said. The trail will eventually connect to the North Bend Rail Trail in Parkersburg.

He said the project is important because of the economic impact on the area.

“People bring in $70 a day into towns,” he said. “Property values within a rail trail or bike path are increased. People want to get on the trails and ride.”

Roger Wright, county engineer, said the first step in the project is to get the CSX property surveyed.

“We don’t have a good description of the boundaries,” he explained. “We will survey the boundary lines and see how much land CSX owns. Then it will be cleared environmentally.”

He said the negotiations for the purchase price will begin and the land will be bought if there is enough left over from the $250,000.

In a letter to Wright, Palmer Engineering estimated the property’s acquisition would be complete by March 2021.

“This winter, they’ll do the survey. It will take nine months to a year to get the property purchased,” Wright said. “It will take three to four months to do the survey.”

He said the estimate of $90,000 to purchase the property might change.

“The next phase would be to do a study to determine the best layout for the trail, a trail study,” he noted. “There would be funding through the Wood Washington Wirt County Interstate Planning Commission and Congestion Mitigation Air Quality Program.”

The Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Improvement Program provides federal funding for eligible projects or programs that reduce emissions and maintain National Ambient Air Quality Standards.

While the property is in the Belpre Township, the rail trail committee will be responsible for the trail.

“The township won’t be responsible for anything,” said Asa Boring, Belpre Township Trustee president. “We don’t have the manpower or money. We won’t be responsible for any maintenance or upkeep on that.”

Michele Newbanks can be reached at mnewbanks@mariettatimes.com.

At a glance:

• Washington County Commission and Palmer Engineering sign contract.

• Contract is for survey and acquisition of CSX Property.

• Property would help connect the Athens-Belpre Rail Trail to Belpre.

• The 1.65-mile property is between Collins Road and Little Hocking River.

Source: Times research.

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