Porter uniting regional trail system

2013-04-14T00:00:00Z Porter uniting regional trail systemBy Michael Barry nwitimes.com
April 14, 2013 12:00 am  • 

The town of Porter, often referred to as "the missing link" of the regional trail system, is positioned to open three connector paths that will link Porter County towns and cities to neighboring counties and neighboring states. These newly minted trails will make Porter more accessible to summer tourists and make the area’s natural resources more accessible to residents.

The Porter Brickyard Trail will connect the Prairie Duneland Trail to the Calumet Trail. The proposed Orchard Pedestrian Way along Waverly Road will eventually connect the downtown to US 20. The Dunes Kankakee Trail will connect Indiana Dunes State Park to the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore Visitor Center and eventually run south along the Ind. 49 corridor to the Kankakee River.

This year’s trail openings end a long process of many small steps that spanned four administrations and nearly 12 years of planning. Deciding how and where to cross highways, railroads and the Little Calumet River was no small task. Finding funding sources was an even more formidable challenge.

These projects are a testament to the successful cooperation between Porter and several public agencies: Indiana Department of Transportation, Northwest Indiana Regional Development Authority, Northwestern Indiana Regional Planning Commission, National Park Service and Indiana Department of Natural Resources.

Funding for the trails was accomplished by using INDOT funds, Transportation Enhancement funds obtained by the DNR, RDA funds obtained by Porter and other funding as listed below.

Porter Brickyard Trail

The 2.9-mile Porter Brickyard trail connects the Prairie Duneland Trail in Chesterton to the Calumet Trail in the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore. This scenic route provides an alternative means of transportation to the Calumet Trail, Cowles Bog Trail, Porter Beach and Bailly Homestead and Chellberg Farm. The trail will completely open this spring once land acquisition is finalized.

Orchard Pedestrian Way

The Orchard Pedestrian Way, funded by a $1.2 million congestion mitigation and air quality grant through the Northwestern Indiana Regional Planning Commission, will link the Orchard Apartments on Waverly Road to the Little League fields on Woodlawn Avenue. Construction bids were let this month, with completion expected in late 2013.

The Orchard Pedestrian Bridge over the Little Calumet River was constructed ahead of the trail using Lake Michigan Coastal grant funds.

Dunes Kankakee Trail

The Dunes Kankakee Trail runs north-and-south along Ind. 49 from the Northern Indiana Commuter Transportation District's bridge to the entrance of the Indiana Dunes State Park and is projected to be completed by the end of July 2013. Porter has just awarded the contract to construct a spur trail from the NICTD station to the Dunes Kankakee Trail. This Calumet Trail Spur completion is also slated for summer of 2013. Additional sections of the Dunes Kankakee Trail within Porter are still in the planning process and will be let in the upcoming months.

Porter will no longer be a missing link but instead will be the hub in a wheel launching residents and tourists alike to other areas in Northwest Indiana and beyond.

Michael Barry is Porter's director of development and the town's building commissioner. The opinions are the writer's.

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