Trails in Indiana

TRAIL DOLLARS GENERATE MILES

B&O trailAbout a year ago, Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels announced $19 million in grant money to further Indiana trail projects. Add to that the Obama stimulus funds; and add to that the U. S. Surface Transportation budget reauthorization and Indiana trails seem to have struck a Powerball jackpot. How these newer dollar infusions will be spent is still being decided in many cases; some is yet to be received. Nevertheless, trail engineers and designers have been quite busy with the gubernatorial windfall. The Daniels’ grants were given through Indiana ’s Department of Natural Resources to specific construction projects on thirty separate trails. A number of projects have been finished and are newly opened. Others are nearing completion and expect to be in use before year’s end, while larger projects still continue toward fulfillment. The following is a status report on some of these trails.

The C & O Trail in northwest Indiana was given $800,000 of the 2008 grants in order to further the building of a 1.7 mile segment that crosses through Merrillville . Workers there expect this portion of the C & O, between State Roads 53 and 55, to be completed in the fall of 2009.

The Pennsy Greenway Northwest also lies in the Lake Michigan region and follows the old Pennsylvania Railroad Corridor. Eventually, this corridor will comprise part of the coast to coast American Discovery  Trail stretching from Maryland to California . Its Indiana component has a northern and a southern tier. Trail builders expect to complete this one-and-one-half mile northward segment by fall, and thus link it to the already-opened Lansing , Illinois portion of trail. The route will continue on to Chicago and Lake Michigan.

The Panhandle Pathway lies northwest of Logansport in Cass and Pulaski Counties . Trail overseers have spent much of their $900,000 grant to lay a new concrete decking on a bridge-crossing along this 17-mile multi-use rail trail.

In June this summer, Pumpkinvine Nature Trail crews opened 2.9 new miles of its northern Indiana pathway. Trail organizers are looking forward to 2010, when they will begin construction on another seven miles of this 17-mile Goshen-Middlebury-Shipshewana rail corridor.

Northwest of Indianapolis , the Farm Heritage Trail is also moving forward with the help of $700,000 in grant funding. Friends of the Boone County Trails report that they have purchased 8 miles of rail corridor between Thorntown and Lebanon . The four-mile portion between Thorntown to Hazelrigg has been cleared, graded and is open for use. The four miles from Hazelrigg to Lebanon is expected to open by mid-September. Further, workers will soon install a new bridge south of Thorntown and are looking to purchase more corridor between Thorntown and Colfax. They expect to have left-over funds to carry into next year.

Talk about knowing how to stretch a dollar! In I. U. country, $900,000 was awarded to further the B-Line trail. The 2/3 mile new section was completed in mid-summer and is now open for public use.

In Greenfield , the Pennsy Trail was given $800,000 to extend its length 2.7 miles. This now-completed portion has not had its official opening at this printing, but is alreadyPennsy trail - Irvington-Indy in use by bicyclists and other trail enthusiasts.

The Cardinal Greenway received $900,000 for use in the Richmond to Losantville area for bridge and trail-surface improvements. Work has been on-going, but Kay at Cardinal Greenways.org reports that it will probably be another year before completion.

Meanwhile, the B&O Trail, with a planned future distance of 60-plus miles, has had an initial, walkable undercoating completed for the first 1000-foot phase. Workers are still attending to some final details.

The state’s mountain bikers can also find happy news from the Daniels’ grants. An award of $250,000 for this type of trail development has now led to completion of 5.5 miles of open mountain bike trails at Harmonie State Park , according to Assistant Property Manager Chastity Spindler. Further east, construction has finally begun on Clarksville Levee Trail’s 1.5 mile section atop the Ohio River flood wall. This trail will eventually become part of the Ohio River Greenway through parts of Clarksville , Jeffersonville , and New Albany . An amount of $900,000 was given for completion of this phase of the trail.

Authored by Jane Conrad, adapted from the HRTC newsletter October 2009

Photographs © 2009