INDIANAPOLIS — Elkhart and Shipshewana are two of the winners in a new round of money for trail development.
Gov. Eric Holcomb and Indiana Department of Natural Resources Director Dan Bortner this week announced 18 communities and non-profit organizations will receive a combined $29.6 million for 70 miles of new trail development as a part of the second round of the Next Level Trails program.
Combined with the 17 projects announced as part of the first round in May 2019, the Next Level Trails program has awarded $54.3 million in funding for more than 112 miles of trail throughout Indiana.
“Trails have been an important resource for Hoosiers’ physical and mental well-being throughout the pandemic,” Gov. Holcomb said. “These projects are a transformational investment in quality of life for communities across our state and a valuable tool for economic and tourism development. We are creating important connections that take us one step closer to becoming the most trail-friendly state in the country.”
Next Level Trails is the largest infusion of trails funding in state history.
The $90 million grant program is divided into two components: a $70 million fund for regional projects and a $20 million fund for local projects. A total of $30 million was available for the second round, $25 million for regional projects and $5 million for local projects. The increased interest in outdoor recreation Indiana residents displayed during the pandemic further demonstrates the need for such projects.
“Hoosiers visited trails and parks this past year in unprecedented numbers,” Bortner said. “Demand for trails has never been higher, and we are excited to partner with local governments and non-profits to build these important community assets.”
The grants awarded in the second round include 10 regional projects and eight local projects. Details of the projects can be found here.
Here are two descriptions of projects approved for funding in north-central Indiana:
Trail Name: New River Greenway
Applicant: City of Elkhart
Grant Amount: $642,600
Length: 1.85 miles
Description: Will close gaps in the New River Greenway in the downtown river district of Elkhart by constructing a total of 1.85 miles of trail, including building 0.76 miles of new asphalt trail, converting 0.16 miles of sidewalk into a trail, and paving 0.93 miles of existing natural-surface trail. The project will connect to the existing Mapleheart Trail at Hively Avenue to create a contiguous link between downtown Elkhart and the City of Goshen. Key partners include the City of Elkhart Redevelopment Commission, Elkhart Convention and Visitors Bureau, and the Elkhart County Community Foundation.
Trail Name: Pumpkinvine Nature Trail
Applicant: Town of Shipshewana
Grant Amount: $953,482
Length: 0.97 miles
Description: Adds 0.97 miles to the Pumpkinvine Nature Trail, extending the trail east into Shipshewana from its current terminus outside of town at C.R. 850 W. The new extension follows North Street, ending in North Park. The project takes advantage of parking and bathroom facilities located within the park near Depot Street, which will serve as the new trailhead for the east end of the Pumpkinvine. The trail extension eliminates the on-road connection to the town and improves access to residential neighborhoods and the downtown business district.
Next Level Trails is part of Gov. Holcomb’s $1 billion Next Level Connections infrastructure program, which accelerates the completion of major highway projects, expands access to rural broadband services and pursues the expansion of rail projects in northwest Indiana.