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Rubber City Heritage Trail will link Akron's east and south ends via abandoned railway

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Posted at 8:49 AM, May 02, 2022
and last updated 2022-05-02 08:51:27-04

AKRON, Ohio — Hikers and cyclists will have another trail to enjoy in the Akron area as work is set to begin on the Rubber City Heritage Trail this fall.

When finished, the 6-mile trail will provide a link between the city’s east and south ends via an abandoned railway. The trail will begin near the former Goodyear campus on Market Street in Middlebury, extend towards the University of Akron campus and move Southeast to connect with the Ohio & Erie Canal Towpath Trail.

“It will give us a good opportunity to explain the history of all the rubber companies and do some on-trail amenities that people could stop and see the history of how the rubber industry changed,” said Akron City Engineer Travis Capper.

Capper said Akron has seen a steady increase in bikers over the last several years so naturally, they have added more amenities like bike lanes and trails.

“The city is certainly trying to grow our bicycle network,” Capper said. “This Rubber City Heritage Trail would kind of connect these neighborhoods from the east, on the east side of town, kind of through the University of Akron, through some of these other neighborhoods, and then eventually into the Towpath Trail.”

The Rubber City Heritage Trail will be designed in phases as funding becomes available. Phase one, which runs about 0.9 miles, will cost about $2 million. Roughly $700,000 of the price tag is coming from federal funding.

“Once you start a phase, then in theory it should be easier to get funding to connect to an existing trail,” Capper said.

Part of the trail includes the former Akron-Barberton Belt elevated railway corridor, a ten-foot-wide pathway that will be retrofitted to accommodate both hikers and bikers.

“Railroad bridges are always built like tanks, so we never usually worry about them,” Capper said. “We know, it will hold the bike, but it's just it's not pedestrian-friendly at all.”

The project is expected to be completed in nine phases and developed over the next eight to ten years.

“We’re trying to do a lot of road diets now where we ride bike lanes into, you know, under-utilized pavement widths,” Capper said.

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