State Rep. Jeff Smith (D-Columbus) told The Columbus Dispatch on Thursday he will sponsor a bill that would provide funds to build multi-use paths that connect the park and Air Force base. Smith, who chairs the House ways and means committee, said he is drafting a bill to authorize issuing up to $25 million in bonds for the project over five years. He expects to file the bill next week.
“I suspect there will be a way to get federal and local funding for the project, as well,” he said. “But this needs to be done. If the state has to step up and fully fund it, we will.”
Columbus Mayor Robert Smith said the project would add 14 miles to the existing multi-use track at Riverside Park, bringing the total length to 16.2 miles. He said it would include three separate, parallel tracks — for walking, jogging and bicycling — and pass through the Lock and Dam area, Dwayne Hayes Park and connect to the Air Force base at old Highway 373. Exercise and play areas will be intermittently placed along the trail, the mayor said.