Trail bridge

Future connection: The red line on this map illustrates the approximate path the Industrial Heritage Trail will take as it connects with the Nickel Plate Trail. A pedestrian bridge will be built over 931 to connect the two trails.

Crews on Tuesday are set to install a new $2 million pedestrian bridge over Indiana 931, wrapping up one of the last and biggest steps to connect the Nickel Plate Trail to downtown Kokomo.

The Indiana Department of Transportation will close the highway from 7 a.m. to around 5 p.m. Tuesday from Smith Road to U.S. 35 to allow two cranes to set the nearly 200-foot-long bridge, weather permitting. Traffic will be detoured to County Road 50 East.

The premanufactured bridge is currently in pieces and will be put together over the highway.

Kokomo City Engineer Carey Stranahan said the project is the culmination of around 10 years of planning to get a pedestrian bridge. He said city officials first started discussing the project in 2007 and started designing the bridge in 2011.

“This has been a long time in the making,” Stranahan said. “I’m excited about it.”

And once the project is complete, it will be more than just a bridge. He said it will serve as a kind of high-profile gateway into the city’s northside.

The structure is set to have an advanced lighting system that will spotlight signage welcoming people to the city and designating the bridge as part of the Nickel Plate Trail, Stranahan said.

“The bridge is a piece of transportation infrastructure, but it’s also a gateway monument,” he said. “It’s a focal piece as well as a bridge.”

Although the bridge will be installed Tuesday, pedestrians won’t be able to start using it for a couple of months. Stranahan said crews will still need to pour the concrete deck and do other work before it officially opens. He said that should happen no later than Memorial Day on May 28.

In the meantime, city crews will continue to fill in gaps along the trail corridor from downtown Kokomo to the bridge. Asphalt crews will also lay pavement down on the trail from Apperson Way to the west side of Indiana 931, and from U.S. 35 to the east side of the highway.

Stranahan said by the end of the year, pedestrians will be able to travel more than 40 miles on a nearly finished trail running from the city’s downtown all the way to Rochester, where the Nickel Plate Trail ends.

The project is being funded through federal and state dollars. Eighty percent will be covered with federal funds. The remaining 20 percent will be funded with $200,000 in state money and Indiana 22 relinquishment funds.

Carson Gerber can be reached at 765-854-6739, or on Twitter @carsongerber1.

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Carson Gerber is a reporter for the Kokomo Tribune and can be reached at 765-854-6739, or on Twitter @carsongerber1.

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