MITCH BARLOGA: Happy New Year and new you, too

2013-01-03T00:00:00Z 2013-08-14T17:57:07Z MITCH BARLOGA: Happy New Year and new you, tooBy Mitch Barloga nwitimes.com
January 03, 2013 12:00 am  • 

Another year has crossed the finish line, and no doubt a metric ton of New Year’s resolutions to live healthier awaits. Lucky for us, our growing trail network offers everyone an opportunity to actually stick with these commitments.

Studies have proven the cliche correct — if you build it, they will come. Same holds true for trails. The closer they are to people, the more often people will use them. If you live in Northwest Indiana, finding a trail near your home is becoming easier every passing year.

In 2012, roughly eight miles of new trails were opened. The most notable were the three-mile Monon Trail in Hammond and the Brickyard Trail in Porter (which still needs about 100 feet of trail to finish, so close enough). In addition, the mighty Erie-Lackawanna Trail saw new pavement installed in Highland and Schererville, and the long-awaited opening into Wicker Park was completed.

Hammond and Whiting also enjoyed the opening of the award-winning George Lake Bridge linking these two historic communities via a landscaped and decorative structure. Another new bridge worth noting is the Vale Park Avenue Bridge over Ind. 49 in Valparaiso, complete with a side path and separated bike/ped lane on the bridge itself.

As robust of a year as we enjoyed, 2013 promises to be as brisk. By the end of the summer, Munster will finish its last mile of the Pennsy Greenway and provide a connection directly into Lansing, joining with its segment of the trail. A “Golden Spoke” ceremony is planned in October at the state line. This project will be in competition with Hammond’s link into the Burnham Greenway in Illinois via 112th Avenue to become the first cross-state trail link in our region.

Hammond also plans to finish a five-mile loop trail around Wolf Lake, as well as several new bridges on the Erie-Lackawanna Trail and over the Little Calumet River, linking the Monon Trail to Munster.

In Merrillville, work will commence on the second phase of the C&O Greenway from Broadway to Mississippi Street, a distance of two miles right to the Southlake Mall vicinity. Further plans will route the C&O through the mall area, creating the unthinkable — safe bicycle and pedestrian movements in the most car-choked area in our region.

In Porter County, the first major leg of the Dunes-Kankakee Trail will route users from Indiana Dunes State Park to the visitors center on U.S. 20. In Valparaiso, continued work on its Pathways system will work to link the Dunes-Kankakee Trail through the city.

These are only the highlights, which once again serves to provide us an excellent opportunity to stick to our resolutions — and exceed them. Happy New Year to you all!

Mitch Barloga is non-motorized transportation and greenways planner for the Northwestern Indiana Regional Planning Commission. The opinion expressed in this column is the writer's and not necessarily that of The Times.

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