Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

Opinion

June 26, 2013

Gift for future generations

Outdoor enthusiasts got some good news recently concerning two local trails. Though it likely will take a couple of years to finish, the city of Kokomo currently is working toward linking the Nickel Plate Trail with its own Industrial Heritage Trail.

Once complete, perhaps by 2015, the merged trails will run from Rochester to Kokomo’s Gano Street.

First, the Nickel Plate will be brought south from Cassville’s Main Street to Howard County Road 400 North, near the Indiana Transmission Plant I’s north parking lot. To get there, the trail must be laid under a new U.S. 31 bypass that crosses the trail south of 450 North.

Once the overpass is complete, it’s just a matter of clearing and grading the railroad easement and paving it south to 400 North. There, the city will install a trailhead parking area.

The city hopes to have this part of the project complete by the end of this year.

City engineer Carey Stranahan told us earlier this month the administration also hopes to complete a trail from Apperson Way North, near where it merges with North Washington Street, south to Gano Street. Howard County government is contributing $290,000 for the trail, and the Indiana Department of Transportation is kicking in another $150,000.

Standing in the way of completing the linked trail to Gano Street is a $2 million pedestrian bridge spanning the current U.S. 31. State and federal grants will pay the majority of the cost, with the city kicking in about $550,000. Stranahan estimates completion of the pedestrian bridge by 2015.

When that happens, the trail will stretch 42 miles from Rochester to Kokomo. And the hard work of residents and organizers — Kokomo resident Charlie Skoog, the local Citizens Advisory Committee on Alternative Transportation, Mayor Greg Goodnight and the Howard County commissioners — will ensure it does.

Their work now will pay dividends for generations to come.

Whether you’re walking, running or riding a bicycle, the trails offer a great way to get out and get some exercise, not to mention enjoy the beautiful Indiana scenery.

The volunteers and government officials pursuing these projects have shown great vision. We applaud them for their efforts.

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