AKRON, Ohio — Akron and the Ohio and Erie Canalway Coalition are moving forward with plans to design the six-mile “Rubber City Heritage Trail” on a stretch of an abandoned elevated rail line.
City Council has approved legislation to pay $75,000 as part of a matching grant with the Ohio and Erie Canalway Coalition for the $150,000 project. The money will pay to design the first phase of the trail, spanning a railway near River Street from 3rd Avenue near the former Goodyear headquarters on East Market Street to the intersection with Exchange Street.
Dan Rice, president and CEO of the Ohio and Erie Canalway Coalition, said the trail will be constructed on the former Akron-Barberton Belt elevated railway corridor, and is intended to resemble the High Line in New York City. It will be 10-feet wide and can accommodate hikers and cyclists.
“The Rubber City Heritage Trail will serve primarily the residents of Akron by making trail connections to libraries, schools, parks and grocery stores,” Rice told cleveland.com and The Plain Dealer.
The trail is being designed in phases as funding becomes available, Rice said, but the plans call for extending it from the Middlebury neighborhood to the University of Akron, downtown, Summit Lake and the Kenmore neighborhoods. Rice expects it to be developed over the next 8 to10 years, with construction on the first phase slated for 2022.
The Akron-Barberton Belt railway, or ABB, once served tire and rubber companies in Greater Akron, including Goodyear, BF Goodrich, Firestone and General. The railway has not been in use for more than a decade, and is owned by the city.
The Ohio and Erie Canalway Coalition held community meetings in 2017 to ask residents to weigh in on the proposed trail, including the route, lighting and design. Anyone interested in providing feedback is asked to fill out an online comment form.
The organization is partnering with the City of Akron on design and construction, Rice said. Environmental Design Group has been hired for the final design. A construction company has not yet been selected.