Sandusky Bay Pathway bike path could span 80 miles

SANDUSKY — They’re gearing up to build the region’s biggest bike path.

During Thursday’s State of the City address, officials mapped out a trail network system to expand the Sandusky Bay Pathway by about 40 times its current length.

Today, the incomplete 2-mile-long waterfront network primarily stretches along Sandusky Bay. Planners, however, want to fulfill blueprints first conceived more than a decade ago.

In 2017, when officials first announced their intentions to bolster the bike path, they envisioned it spanning from Sandusky’s west side, connecting through downtown and linking up with a proposed east end waterfront park called The Landing.

All told, within 15 years, the 13-mile course would create public access throughout Erie County’s largest city.

But city manager Eric Wobser indicated how planners want to increase its length and decrease the construction timeline.

He expressed his desire for the pathway to bridge an area between Port Clinton in Ottawa County to Vermilion in Lorain County. Plus he wants it completed within a decade’s time.

“This project is a unique partnership and a once-in-a-generation opportunity to connect our community to Sandusky Bay via a world-class bike trail and destination green space,” Wobser said. “Landing Park will become an iconic Sandusky destination, joining Cedar Point and the Lake Erie islands. Most importantly, this is a public resource that will benefit local residents and tourists alike.”

Locking down dollars for the project remains its most crucial component for development and completion. Helping the cause: The city commission recently approved a special financing district in which 90 percent of new tax dollars produced in a zone encompassing Sports Force Parks at Cedar Point Sports Center would aid the adjacent Landing Park and, thus, Sandusky Bay Pathway. Officials also vowed to find grant money and other outside funding sources.

“The Sandusky Bay Pathway is a game changer for the city,” said Michelle Johnson, the director of Cleveland-based Environmental Design Group, which oversees both the pathway and The Landing’s design process. “It redefines the city’s opportunities for local and regional destinations, economic development and overall city and regional connectivity.”