Construction of Towpath trail in Cleveland ahead of schedule

Trail, park includes restored fish habitat

CLEVELAND - Construction of the Ohio and Erie Canalway Towpath Trail along Scranton Road in Cleveland is ahead of schedule.

Ground was broken for the two-thirds mile segment last July and should be completed by year's end, according to Tim Donovan , executive director of the Ohio Canal Corridor.

He said preparing the site included giving the land a "haircut", removing the top area of soil contaminated by the area's past uses as a rail yard and coal storage depot.

A highlight of the project is the removal of the steel bulkheads on the Cuyahoga River's west bank to restore a fish habitat.

"It takes away the aquarium feature along that part of the river," Donovan said, "and opens a fish hotel."

It is fish hotel because its 2,800 feet of restored riverbank will be a place along the river for marine animals and fish to stop to access plants and other food sources as they move up and down the river.      

Up to now, nearly all the river was separated from the adjacent plants and lands along its length from the Cuyahoga's mouth to beyond the steel mills.

The $7 million price tag for the Scranton park was cobbled together by combining two grants totaling $3 million from the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative Fund, nearly $3.5 million in two grants from Clean Ohio and the remaining from the state of Ohio and U.S. Fish and Wildlife.

Currently, the Towpath ends at Harvard Avenue, with a temporary section connecting the trail to Steelyard Commons.

Donovan expects the areas of the Towpath in Cleveland's Tremont neighborhood north of Steelyard Commons to be the next section added.

Gaps continue to be filled in the 110 miles of the historic canal trail as it moves toward Heritage Park in Cleveland from its southern terminus in Tuscarawas County.

Another section in the Cleveland area will become reality as the current Innerbelt Bridge is torn down and the second new bridge is built.

Planners have had numerous neighborhood meetings to gather input on landscaping and design of the trail and park at the new bridge's western end near West 14th.

The Ohio Canal Corridor provides updates, including video, on their site.

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