Nothing had been keeping walkers and cyclists from using the trail before the Ohio Department of Transportation formally announced its completion Wednesday, of course.
"We used it already, before they officially opened it," said Edward O'Reilly, chairman of the Toledo Metropolitan Area Council of Governments' pedestrian and bikeways committee, who joined a small group of bike riders and walkers in an opening-day lunchtime tour.
The 2.21-mile trail meanders beneath the North Toledo viaduct of the Veterans' Glass City Skyway, crossing the Craig Memorial Bridge into the East Toledo parks. It is just one element of ODOT's $22 million project to restore the former I-280 right-of-way to local use following the freeway's 2007 relocation onto the Skyway overhead. But it's a step ODOT pledged to take to reunify the North Toledo neighborhood that was divided during the 1950s, before the interstate highway system, by construction of the Detroit-Toledo Expressway.
"This is a tremendous positive for the community and the neighborhoods," said David Dysard, ODOT's district deputy director in Bowling Green, who, in his previous job as TMACOG's transportation director, was known for biking to his downtown Toledo workplace.
Besides the park's usefulness to walkers and cyclists, Mr. Dysard said, its completion ends the noise, dust, and other inconvenience that nearby residents have dealt with for nearly a decade as the Skyway was built and the former freeway was torn out, leaving a trench behind.
ODOT paid for refilling the trench, while the cost of reconfiguring the Craig bridge for use by local traffic and building the trail was split three ways among the state, the city of Toledo, and federal funding administered by the metropolitan council. The Craig bridge work included replacing former I-280 interchanges at Summit and Front streets with level intersections and stoplights.
Mr. O'Reilly said he expects the trail to be popular not only with cyclists, but also walkers, runners, skateboarders and, for at least a short time after snowstorms, cross-country skiers.
"It's not really a bike path, it's multipurpose," said the former Toledoan, who now lives in Monclova Township. "I run on it as much as I bike."
At its north end, the trail connects to a counterpart built along Greenbelt Parkway, during that road's late-1990s construction, that runs west to Cherry Street at the edge of Toledo's downtown. It passes near the Summit YMCA in the former Riverside Hospital and reaches its southern end near the ballfields of Ravine Park and the Skyway workers' monument now being built in Tribute Park.
Mr. O'Reilly said it eventually could be linked to the bike route along Starr Avenue in Oregon that leads to Pearson Metropark.
Besides the trail, the roughly 40 acres of highway right-of-way converted to parkland was seeded with native grass and planted with about 350 trees. A small pond on the North Toledo side, between relocated Summit Street and the Maumee River, will serve as a settling basin for Skyway runoff.
ODOT spokesman Theresa Pollick said the state's contract with Posen Construction includes a two-year "maintenance period" during which plants that die will be replaced.
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