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January 8, 2012

Nickel Plate plan waiting on deal

City, county hashing out funding details to bring Nickel Plate into Kokomo

Indianapolis — State officials are waiting on an agreement between the city of Kokomo and Howard County before proceeding on a plan to extend the Nickel Plate Trail into Kokomo.

Local transportation planning officials received an update last week on the project, which will connect Kokomo with the 38-mile hiking/biking trail.

Both city and county officials are hoping work begins this year to bring the trail south from its current southern terminus in Cassville.

Howard County officials agreed to contribute $290,000 toward the local match for the project, and to pay the money to the city in two installments, one this year and the second in 2013.

But the formal agreement between the city and county has been on hold for the past two months, as attorneys for both government entities hash out details, according to Larry Ives, director of the Kokomo-Howard County Governmental Coordinating Council.

Kokomo city attorney Lawrence McCormack said Friday he thinks an agreement will be reached soon.

“I don’t think this is anything we can’t get around,” he said.

County attorney Larry Murrell said the city is seeking a written guarantee the Howard County Council will appropriate the second payment in 2013, but said there’s no legal way to bind the council to an appropriation.

“We’ve told them that the money will be paid, and that the council has every intention of paying it,” Murrell said.

Indiana Department of Transportation officials have signed off on an agreement to carry the trail over and under the new U.S. 31 bypass, the current bypass, and the soon-to-be-rerouted U.S. 35 northern junction

Ives said the plan will involve building a pedestrian/walking bridge over the current U.S. 31 and a lighted tunnel to carry the trail under the new U.S. 31. The trail would cross U.S. 35 at grade level.

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