FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – Earlier this year the state announced that it was going to give out more than 25 million dollars in grants through the “Next Level Trails” initiative to grow trail projects in Indiana. One of those trails that receive funding was the Pufferbelly trail and last week the County commissioners accepted the grant.
Last week Allen County Commissioners accepted that grant to extend the Pufferbelly Trail further north. The grant is nearly $3.3 million and will extend the trail over 4 miles from a trailhead near Lifebridge Church in Perry Township to Fitch Road, just south of the Allen-DeKalb county line.
This adds on to the existing trail that already connects to zoo to downtown. Megan McClellan, Executive Director at Fort Wayne Trails Inc., says the trail is being built along old train lines where the tracks used to run, and refurbishing that route is what the grant will be going towards.
“It’s for the actual construction of the trail. Most of it is along an old railroad bed. It will be an asphalt trail about 10 feet wide in most places. 10 to 12 feet. There will be two bridges that are old railroad bridges that will be refurbished, things like that.”
Eventually the goal is to have the Pufferbelly Trail be a segment along the nearly 80 mile connection from Ouabache State Park to Pokagon State Park, linking Bluffton and Angola. This involves communication between counties.
“Allen county is really lucky to have an extremely supportive county council and county government, as well as the city of fort wayne, all working together very well with us as a non-profit. So we’ve been able to make really good progress. DeKalb county doesn’t quite have that much support but they have a group together and we are just waiting to hear exactly where they are coming down so we know where to meet them at the county line”, adds McClellan.
As for the new portion of the Pufferbelly Trail they hope to accept bids later this year and start construction in the Spring of 2020. If all goes according to plan it will be open Fall 2020.