GRIFFITH — The well traveled Griffith bike trail will soon add the downtown as one of its destinations.
With the Erie-Lackawanna Trail heavily traveled by walkers and cyclists, the Town Council has approved a new stretch that will branch over to businesses on the south end of town.
The main trail stretches past these businesses before it crosses Broad Street, south of Main Street, near the railroad crossing.
"The Town Council is looking to expand opportunities for our downtown businesses to attract even more customers and make the business district more accessible to the many people who utilize our bike trail," said Council President Rick Ryfa, R-3rd. "The plan is to create an inviting area that provides easy access to our downtown from our existing bike trail."
Known as the Broad Street Alley Project, it will provide a major facelift to the alley behind the stores on the west side of the 100 block, said Council Vice President Larry Ballah, R-2nd.
The plan, which is being designed by the Lochmueller Group for $71,600, will include a bike and pedestrian ramp, bike racks, outdoor tables, chairs and other amenities.
It will also include sidewalks, a retaining wall and will realign the alley entrance, Ballah said.
Ryfa added that the project has great potential for increased economic development.
"We are working with our local businesses and expect many to jump on board with their own improvements to the back of their buildings to enhance this project."
Even with coordinating the various utilities, the project should be carried out this year, Ryfa said.
"The improvements will be designed, constructed and funded solely by the Town of Griffith, along with any partnerships with participating local merchants," he stressed.
At a meeting earlier this month, the council also took action to improve roads around town. It approved a bid from Walsh & Kelly, Inc. of Griffith for about $1.8 million.
Thanks to a Community Crossings matching grant from the state of Indiana, "Griffith will be responsible for 50 percent of this amount, or $891,627.67," said Public Works Director Rick Konopasek.
The project will involve stretches of 12 different roads, including: Colfax Avenue between Main Street and the Grand Trunk Western Railroad crossing; Arbogast Avenue from Avenue H to Reder Road; Wood Avenue from 40th Place to 39th Lane; Elmer Avenue from 40th Avenue to 39th Lane; and 40th Avenue between Dwiggins and Elmer avenues.
Also being resurfaced are Lake Street between Broad and Lafayette streets; Lawndale Drive from Jay to Wheeler avenues; Ash Street from Forest Avenue to Rueth Drive; O'Day Drive/Lillian Avenue from Bradley Drive to 45th Avenue; and Main Street between South Lafayette Street and North Indiana Street.
Broad Street will get facelifts in two locations: between Main and Elm streets; and from Elm to 45th Avenue.