Yet again another year has passed into history, so no better time to assess the progress our region has made for nonmotorized (or active) transportation — and what lies ahead in 2014.
The past year witnessed the continuing growth of our regional trail network. In all, about five miles of new off-road paved trail was opened to the public in 2013. The largest of these segments was more than two miles on the west side of Wolf Lake in Hammond, nearly completing a five-mile loop route around the Indiana side of the lake. What remains now is the opening of a 1,000-foot bridge, which is slated to open in early spring.
The Wolf Lake Trail represents a significant investment by the Northwest Indiana Regional Development Authority over the last few years. The latest section of trail leaves a connection into Illinois at 112th Street, which will connect to the nearby Burnham Greenway later in the year or early 2015.
Hammond will see the development of three major bridge facilities as well in 2014. The first is for the Erie-Lackawanna Trail over 167th Street and Columbia Avenue. The second and third are on the Monon Trail, one at 165th Street and another over the Little Calumet River. Mayor Thomas McDermott Jr. has spearheaded these projects from the start.
The most notable trail development in 2013 was the long-awaited connection of the Pennsy Greenway between Munster and Lansing. This event was celebrated at a “Golden Spoke” ceremony held in October right on the state line. This marks the first bistate trail connection between Indiana and Illinois, and in 2014 Munster plans to finish its portion of the Pennsy from Fisher Street to Calumet Avenue.
In Porter, a landmark project was completed between the Dune Park South Shore station, and the entrance to the Indiana Dunes State Park. Now visitors by train have a direct access to the front door of our natural treasure. This mile-long segment is also part of Dunes-Kankakee Trail network, which is developing through central Porter County.
In 2014, work is scheduled to be completed on a trail connecting Indiana Dunes State Park to its visitors center at U.S. 20 and Ind. 49. Porter is also scheduled to open its Orchard Way Path, which is nearing completion on the town's east side down Waverly Avenue.
To keep up with all the trail news in our region, please visit the Northwest Indiana Greenways and Blueways Facebook page, or www.nirpc.org.