MUNSTER | The Town Council on Monday approved a local public agency agreement with the Indiana Department of Transportation to construct pedestrian/bike bridges over Hart, Cady and Marsh ditches.
The bridges will connect Munster and Highland as part of the bike path system that runs from Illinois throughout Northwest Indiana.
Town Manager Tom DeGiulio said the scope of the project will finally connect the bike/pedestrian trail over the ditches that go by different names. INDOT describes the waterways as Cady and Marsh ditches, while it’s called Hart Ditch in Munster, he said.
As the lead agency, the Munster officials needed to approve the agreement so federal funding wouldn’t be lost, Town Engineer James Mandon told the board prior to the unanimous vote.
The initial federal allocation is $387,000 for construction and supervision or 80 percent of the costs. Munster officials will prepare an intergovernmental agreement with Highland for the project to split the remaining 20 percent of the costs.
“Under the terms of the proposed agreement, the costs are to be shared 50/50,” DeGiulio said.
“Our anticipated construction and supervision costs will be $37,800. We have funds in both general obligations and park bond issues for this project,” he said.
The project has been discussed since 2010 with initial work going through the two park boards. However, Mandon said, NIPSCO won’t allow permanent bridge foundations to be built on its utility corridor.
Instead the bridge foundations will be constructed on parkland and one corner of a private easement, he said.
No design has been determined yet, but the bridges will be lightweight to accommodate bikes and pedestrian traffic, Mandon said.
“It will be able to support a small pickup truck for maintenance,” he said.
The Northwestern Indiana Regional Planning Commission ranks the project highly, according to Mandon.
“It’s an important connection between the two communities and beyond,” he said.