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INDIANAPOLIS — Thirteen Northwest Indiana localities have submitted 16 of the 82 applications for state grants to construct or improve trails connecting communities throughout the state.

Republican Gov. Eric Holcomb recently revealed that requests for Next Level Trails funding have come from 42 of Indiana's 92 counties, and altogether seek nearly $144 million to develop more than 240 miles of hiking, biking and riding trails.

"The number of applications in the first round far surpassed our expectations and shows Indiana's enthusiasm for trails," Holcomb said. "This sends a big message that Hoosiers are invested in improving quality of life across the state."

The Region applicants and their projects are:

  • Lake County — Cedar Lake, Founders Creek Multi-Use Trail; Crown Point, Sportsplex Trail; Hammond, Marquette Greenway; Merrillville, C&O Trail Extension Phase III; Munster, Munster-Highland Connector; and Schererville, Pennsy Greenway Northwest Trail Phase IV.
  • Porter County — Burns Harbor, Marquette Trail Phases 3 and 4; Hebron, Veterans Memorial Parkway Trail; Portage, Marquette Trail; Portage Township, Haven Hollow Park Trail; Valparaiso, Ivy Tech Campus Connector, Ogden Prairie Trail, Vale Park Road West Link and Wheeler/State Road 2 Regional Pathway Connection Corridor.
  • LaPorte County — Michigan City, Singing Sands Trail Phase III
  • Jasper County — Rensselaer, Brookside Park to 4H Fairgrounds Trail

The governor has tasked a multi-agency committee, led by the Indiana Department of Natural Resources, with reviewing, evaluating and deciding which projects to support using the $90 million available for Next Level Trails grants.

The trail grant funds originated from the $1 billion the state was paid in exchange for permitting the Indiana Toll Road operator to hike truck toll rates last year by 35 percent.

According to the governor's office, a total of $70 million in trail grants will be directed at regional trail projects, with $20 million reserved for purely local trails.

Communities awarded state trail grants also are required to contribute 20 percent of the trail cost, either through monetary contributions, land value, or donated materials and labor.

The first $25 million in state grants could be announced in April or May.

Trail projects are expected to be completed within four years. All state-funded trails must be open to the public.

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Statehouse Bureau Chief

Dan is Statehouse Bureau Chief for The Times. Since 2009, he's reported on Indiana government and politics — and how both impact the Region — from the state capital in Indianapolis. He originally is from Orland Park, Ill.