New path will make nature preserve access easier, safer for pedestrians

Work is  underway on a new bike path along Augsburger Road that will make accessing the nature preserve easier and safer for pedestrians. The path will extend all the way to Maple Crest and is expected to be completed by the end of October. Photo courtesy Fred Steiner/Bluffton Icon

By Kiera Suffel

A new bike path that will connect the university with the nature preserve is projected to be completed by the end of October. The new Lions Way-Augsburger Path will begin at the men’s soccer field and end just past Maple Crest. The bike path will go by the Bluffton University Nature Preserve, making it easier for students to walk there.

The Bluffton Pathway Board has had many projects over the years, continually adding new bike paths. The most recent bike path addition, the Lions Way-Augsburger Path, received a grant from the Ohio Department of Transportation that will cover 80 percent of the cost. The total cost of the project is $244,000.

The Village of Bluffton and the Bluffton Lions Club have a Comprehensive Bike & Pedestrian Pathway Master Plan, which includes some goals and benefits of having the pathways. A few include supporting recreational activities of people in the community and express safety concerns for walking and biking.

“It will be nice to have somewhere else to run to the nature preserve,” said Melanie Moon, sophomore cross country runner. “There are a lot of cars on the road that we have to avoid.”

Bluffton University President James Harder is on the pathway board.

“I have always been impressed by towns that have a network of alternative transportation for people on foot or a bicycle,” said Harder. “So I am very happy that Bluffton is developing that. I think it will improve the quality of life for everybody here, really both younger people that want to be physically fit, as well as older people who need to get around on assisted devices.”

The pathway board is partnered with the Bluffton Lions Foundation. Their next big plans are to connect the Lions Way-Augsburger path from Bentley Road to Grove Street. Bentley Road runs behind Ramseyer, Neufeld and the Hirschy halls as well as alongside the Salzman Stadium. Long-term plans are to eventually continue the path to Main Street at the Bluffton Dari Freeze.

“This one is really exciting because it will be the most heavily used in Bluffton I’m sure because there are so many people who try to safely get along Augsburger,” said Harder.


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