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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

said.

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

walking."

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

next summer.

Nickovich said the Erie Lackawanna Trail, like the Oak Savannah Trail, will

have a trailhead in Oak Ridge Prairie County Park.

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