By Martin Slagter Kokomo Tribune
---- — As opportunities have come, the Nickel Plate Trail continues to come together, piece by piece, as it makes its way through downtown Kokomo.
The downtown section, branded as the Industrial Heritage Trail, continues to take shape on North Buckeye Street and is expected to be completed in early August, City Engineer Carey Stranahan said, as city crews work to install brick pavers and a trailhead from Taylor Street to Mulberry Street.
Stranahan said the Heritage Trail’s construction won’t continue in a straight line toward Superior Street, however, because of the pending demolition of the old W.H. Turner building at 114-116 W. Walnut St., leaving the section from Walnut Street to Mulberry Street the final section to be completed.
“We’re going to have to skip that block for right now and skip down to the south end,” he said. “We’ll go from Superior to Sycamore and then complete the other two blocks from the courthouse block and then from Walnut to Mulberry.
“The next thing for us to do would be to rip up from Walnut to Mulberry if we were working our way south, but we don’t want to be in that while there’s somebody hauling a bunch of stuff out of the alley,” he added.
Stranahan said progress is being made on different sections of the trail on the north side of Kokomo, extending up toward the county line.
The city’s street department began installing another mile of trailhead from 550 North to 450 North about two weeks ago and recently poured asphalt on that section.
Crews soon will be pouring asphalt on the section from 450 North to 400 North, which will include a paved parking lot near 400 North.
Kokomo Street Department Director Joe Ewing said stone already has been laid in the parking area.
“The rain has slowed us a little bit, but we’re still on schedule,” he said.
Once that section of the trail is complete, crews will shift their focus to installing trailhead on Apperson Way just south of Indiana 931 toward Gano Street. That section is expected to be completed by mid-August.
“That section is on top of the rail bed,” Stranahan said. “When we get down to Gano, we’re shifting [the trail] to the west side of the tracks, because the tracks will technically still be active from Gano south.”
Stranahan said the city is still working on getting easements between 111 E. Gano St. and Morgan Street, so it can continue to extend the trail south.
That section of the trail would eventually connect with a large stretch of railroad banking acquired by the city from the Central Railroad Company of Indianapolis as part of its deal to purchase the old downtown rail depot in March.
That rail banking acquisition will allow the trail to extend from Gano Street to State Road 35.
Martin Slagter can be reached at 765-454-8570, email@example.com or on Twitter @slagterm.