Angola, Steuben agree to work on extending trail

January 8th, 2019

By Mike Marturello | KPC Media - The Herald Republican

Steuben County’s and Angola’s trail system is possibly going to be heading south.

Angola and Steuben County officials agreed to cooperate on designing and seeking state funds to build out the existing trail system within the city and then head south so it may eventually connect with an existing trail in Waterloo.

The Indiana Next Level trails program has been funded at $90 million, with $70 million available for regionally significant trails and $20 million for locally significant projects.

Angola Engineer Amanda Cope said the local project would be considered regionally significant and cooperation between the city and county would go a long way toward securing a grant.

“We are a trails community,” Cope said during a meeting of the Steuben County Board of Commissioners on Monday.

An exact route for the trail in Angola has not been announced. However, it will eventually run to Old U.S. 27, a county road, which will be followed to Waterloo to connect with an existing trail. DeKalb County would be responsible for the connection from the Steuben-DeKalb line and south to Waterloo.

The trail from Steuben County is hoped to someday continue south to Wells County where it would facilitate a connection running from Pokagon State Park to Ouabache State Park, which would make it the longest trail in the state. This trail is being called the Poka-bache trail for the two parks, but locally can be named anything.

“You can name your trail in your county anything you want,” said Toby Steffan, consultant with BF&S, Indianapolis and Fort Wayne.

Steffan was asked to present a proposal for the trail at an upcoming commissioners’ meeting. He will be asked to conduct a feasibility study for the trail.

Steuben County Highway Engineer Jen Sharkey said the city-county project won’t be ready in time for the most current trail grant cycle but should be ready for a grant round shortly after the first.

The Next Level Trails initiative is part of Gov. Eric Holcomb’s Next Level Connections infrastructure program announced last fall.

For a regional project, entities may request a minimum of $250,000 and a maximum of $5 million. Grantees must cover 20 percent of a project.

Steuben County is awaiting spring weather in order to complete its second mile of trail that started last spring but was delayed by weather and other construction delays. This final mile is completes a trail system that runs between Pokagon State Park and Commons Park in Angola.

The project started at the trailhead on S.R. 127 atop Hoosier Hill and heads north to C.R. 400N where it turns north to cross Interstate 69 then turns north again to head into Pokagon, terminating at the trail built in the park in 2001.