The Hockhocking Adena Bikeway expansion project is going for another lap as the planning committee continues its attempt to acquire funding.
After a failure to secure funds from the Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) in a budget bill, a coalition created by the city of Logan, Hocking County Commissioners and Hocking Valley Scenic Trail committee, is attempting to gather funds by applying for a federal Better Utilizing Investments to Leverage Development, or Build, grant. The funds, up to $25 million, would then be funneled through ODOT and given to the Hocking County Commissioners.
Gary Silcott Jr. is an executive at Stantec, the engineering firm trying to build the addition, who, after 22 years of hands-on experience in southeast Ohio, thinks he knows the area pretty well and believes there is untapped opportunities in this region that can be exposed through transportation.
“Hocking County has ample room for commercial and industrial growth,” Silcott said. “But needs to entice those investors by bringing the roadways up to current standards of travel.”
The proposed expansion of the path and improvements to the intersection of SR 328 and Front Street “would begin at the Depot in Nelsonville, traversing along the active railway and/or existing county highways,” according to a project narrative from Stantec. “The trail would then split at the existing US33 underpass, taking a scenic route along Well Road and connecting to Logan High School, where trials are active and access to parking would be convenient.”
According to the Department of Transportation, a build grant “provides a unique opportunity for the DOT to invest in road, rail, transit and port projects that promise to achieve national objectives.” Congress has allocated $7.1 billion for ten rounds of investments from the federal government to invest in projects that have “a significant local or regional impact.”
“In this case, the funds have been earmarked for rural communities,” Rick Demmel, Community Band president, said. “You can apply for up to $25 million and they’re going to apply for it all.”
However, the coalition is making sure all of its bases are covered, especially after failing to secure funds directly from ODOT. This time, in case the Build grant doesn’t work out, the coalition is also eyeing the possibility of a private loan.
“They are assessing which banks have an appetite for this type of financing,” Elyse Trout, a government banker at U.S. Bank in Cleveland, said. “A couple of other banks in Logan already said they couldn’t accommodate.”