MERRILLVILLE - The Oak Savannah Trail along the former Elgin, Joliet and
Eastern Railroad corridor isn't the only rails-to-trails project that will have
an impact here.
The Lake County Parks and Recreation Board also is working on a trail along
the former Erie Lackawanna Railroad corridor, which cuts across the southwest
corner of Merrillville.
The trail's development started with planning by Hammond in the 1980s
through that city's parks department, County Parks Superintendent Bob Nickovich
The towns of Griffith and Schererville have completed their segments, and
Highland's section is under construction. Merrillville's segment, which runs
roughly two miles from the intersection of U.S. 30 and the Schererville town
line to 93rd Avenue, will complete the trail to the Crown Point line.
"It runs diagonally through town's southwest portion," Town Manager Tom
Keilman said. "If you got on this thing at U.S. 30, it would run right behind
the Lake County Courthouse."
Keilman said most of the trail within Merrillville will be funded partially
by $145,000 in federal grant money under the Intermodal Surface Transportation
Enhancement Act. That act, Keilman said, emphasizes transportation alternatives
to automobile usage.
"They wanted to get some projects that would use alternate methods of
transportation, walking or riding bicycles," Keilman said. "Ideally, this will
enable people to get from one side of town to the other with bicycles or
In addition to the federal funds, the town has $40,000 earmarked for the
project, which is expected to cost between $180,000 and $200,000, Keilman said.
He expects to advertise for bids in the spring and have the trail completed
Nickovich said the Erie Lackawanna Trail, like the Oak Savannah Trail, will
have a trailhead in Oak Ridge Prairie County Park.