The City of Akron and Summit County were the first to finish the development of the Towpath Trail county and city line to line. However, that does not mean that our work is done.
iTowpath is a plan that aims to improve connectivity, safety, accessibility, and aesthetics of the Towpath Trail in downtown Akron, creating a more connected and vibrant city.
This plan was originally funded by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation in 2015 after the realization that while complete, there are still many ways the Towpath Trail could be improved to better serve the community and visitors. To date, more than $750,000 has been granted to the Ohio & Erie Canalway Coalition to implement these trail-improvement projects, which span from the Mustill Store in the north to Summit Lake in the south.
View and download the iTowpath Executive Summary map to learn more about the project.
More than 20 projects were identified as part of iTowpath, including the installation of bicycle service stations, enhancements to the dark underpasses along the trail, wayfinding signage, and connections to local attractions.
The Towpath Trail through downtown Akron winds along sidewalks, through parks and under highways. Visitors often express their confusion when trying to find their way, which is why a new wayfinding system is being implemented to help people better find their way and connect them with destination on and off the Towpath Trail. To be completed Summer 2016.
Through public engagement, we found that many Towpath Trail users felt uneasy and unwelcome when traveling through an underpass. There are more than 10 underpasses throughout a three-mile stretch of the Towpath and through iTowpath, we are beginning work to make them feel more open and welcoming, one underpass at a time. Improvements are ongoing.
Quaker & Ash Gateway Entrance
The northern entrance to downtown Akron via the Towpath Trail has historically greeted people with only various shades of gray and no indication of the continuing Towpath. This changed with the assitance of artists Jessica Lofthus and John Comunale who created a mural and archway respectively, creating a better sense of welcome for those coming from the north. Completed June 2016.
The purpose of iTowpath is to make improvements that the community expresses a need or want for. Therefore, the first steps in putting together a plan involved community engagement. Working with Alta Planning + Design, we held a three-day community engagement session that garnered hundreds of comments on the state of the Towpath Trail and possible projects.
The community engagement portion of the project is not over. We want to continue receiving feedback and involvement as we move forward. Here are a couple ways you can get involved:
Engagement with Projects: Many community partners and individuals are working together to complete iTowpath projects. Whether it is our associate board of young professionals developing a plan to enhance an underpass or a group of dedicated locals meeting about enhancements to Summit Lake, there is a lot of passion behind these projects.
Community Feedback: As projects are implemented, we encourage community feedback. Did you use a bicycle service station or Towpath Trail connector? Did you walk through a newly improved underpass? How can this project or similar projects be improved in the future? We welcome your feedback to make the Towpath Trail and Akron better.