2017 will be a big building year for local trails
The work includes four sections of the Pufferbelly Trail.
By Kevin Kilbane | News-Sentinel
With about $6 million in construction planned, this year will be one of the biggest expansions ever of the trails system in Fort Wayne, said Dawn Ritchie, greenways manager for the city of Fort Wayne.
Other efforts also are ongoing to expand the trails network outside the city in Allen County.
The city projects will add a little more than 11 miles of trails this year, which will push the total in Allen County to more than 100 miles of trails by the end of the year, said Frank Suarez, public information director for the city's Division of Public Works and City Utilities. About 84 miles of the total will be within Fort Wayne city limits.
The new trails will bring nearly 35,000 people within a half mile of the trail system, pushing the overall total to more than 130,000 people locally living within a half mile of a trail, Suarez said.
Trail use also is growing: While usage is weather dependent, more than 568,130 people used Fort Wayne's trails in 2016, an increase of more than 159,300 from the previous year, city trails monitoring shows.
"Certainly people use it for recreation, but a lot of people use it to get places," Suarez said of the trails network.
This year's trails construction will be funded with city, federal and Regional Cities money and from donations, including Fort Wayne Trails' recent gift of $100,000 to help pay for building a section of the Pufferbelly Trail from State Boulevard to Fernhill Avenue, Suarez and Ritchie said.
The bulk of the city's trails construction projects this year involve the Pufferbelly Trail, which is a local trail through Fort Wayne that also will be part of the Poka-Bache Connector-Indiana Visionary Trail, which will run about 80 miles from Ouabache State Park near Bluffton to Pokagon State Park near Angola, Ritchie said. The local Pufferbelly Trail projects include:
- 1.6 miles from State Boulevard to Fernhill Avenue, following an abandoned railroad bed west of North Clinton and Northrop Street and including a spur to Franke Park, which also contains the Fort Wayne Children's Zoo and Foellinger Outdoor Theatre, Ritchie said.
- 0.6 miles from State Boulevard to the intersection of Fourth and Clinton streets.
- 2 miles from Washington Center Road to Wallen Road.
- 1.5 miles along the east side of Bluffton Road from Lower Huntington Road to west Foster Park and Winchester Road. The project also includes installing sidewalks on the west side of Bluffton Road.
The city's trails construction work this year also includes additional projects.
As soon as school gets out, a contractor will install a trail on top of the Pemberton Levee from near the Rivergreenway at the Maumee River north to Lakeside Middle School on Lake Avenue, Ritchie said.
A portion of the Hanna Street Trail being constructed this year will take people from Pontiac Street to Rudisill Boulevard, she said. When the entire trail is completed in about four years, it will run 5 miles from the Southtown Centre shopping area to downtown.
Crews also will build another short segment of the Six Mile Creek Trail, from Southtown Centre to the nearby Anthony Boulevard, Ritchie said. When the entire Six Mile Creek Trail is completed in future years, it will link up with the Rivergreenway trail in New Haven to create a 26-mile loop that could be used for running marathons, she noted.
At the same time, the nonprofit Fort Wayne Trails is working with Huntertown, Leo-Cedarville and Grabill to discuss the idea of building trails to connect into the Allen County trails network, said Kent Castleman, the trails' groups executive director.
Castleman said his organization also has beek working with Allen County to acquire right-of-way to build a trail from Payton County Park, 13928 Dunton Road, north to Gump Road.
That will provide a connection to a trail being installed as part of the Allen County Highway Department's $7.6 million Gump Road reconstruction project, which runs from Indiana 3 to Cedar Canyons Elementary at Gump and Coldwater roads, said Mike Green, county public information officer. The road reconstruction project started last year.
New Haven-Adams Township Parks and Recreation Department also is installing a half-mile, asphalt walking path around its new Community Center at 7500 Indiana 930 E., on the west side of New Haven, said Mike Clendenen, parks superintendent. The trail connects to the Meadowbrook neighborhood south of the center so residents there have easy access to the community center.