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The Journal Gazette

Group seeks funds to complete trail

$100,000 sought from county for Pufferbelly work

Fort Wayne Trails wants to get started on the next phase of the Pufferbelly Trail and plans to ask Allen County commissioners for a $100,000 loan to help with the endeavor.

The commissioners are expected to make a decision on the loan within the next two weeks.

The trails organization has raised $200,000 toward the project and has agreed to repay the county within two years.

The organization has already received a $150,000 federal Recreational Trails Program grant administered by the Indiana Department of Natural Resources, according to Lori Keys, executive director of Fort Wayne Trails.

Construction of the additional 1.25-mile stretch of the Pufferbelly Trail between Dupont and Carroll roads is expected to get underway in the next few months.

About a half-mile of the trail is within the city; the rest is in Allen County, which is sharing the cost of the work. The city and county have partnered with Fort Wayne Trails to complete the rails-to-trails project, Keys said.

The trail extension will run from Dupont Road near Solomon Farm Park north between Woodmont and LaCabreah housing additions to Carroll Road.

Future plans call for the trail to continue from Carroll Road north to the Allen/DeKalb county line, a distance of about 4.6 miles, according to Trails Manager Dawn Ritchie.

The Fort Wayne Board of Works will open bids for the trail extension April 23, Ritchie said.

“Pending approval of the bids, the project should start in June and be completed by Sept. 30,” she said.

“This will offer so much connectivity and so many destinations,” Ritchie said. “I have IPFW students and others calling me to tell me how exciting it will be to bike or walk to work, school or lots of other destinations including Franke Park, Glenbrook Square and Science Central.”

The trail is part of a larger transportation project that includes the widening of Dupont Road between Lima and Coldwater roads, additional sidewalks, trails and a pedestrian underpass. That project is scheduled to begin in 2016, Fort Wayne Public Works spokesman Frank Suarez said.

A grade-separated crossing will allow the trail to go underneath the road near the northeast corner of the trail loop around Salomon Farm Park, he said.

The 13-mile Pufferbelly Trail is Fort Wayne’s and Allen County’s portion of the state of Indiana’s Visionary Trail, an 80-mile pathway proposed to go from Pokagon State Park in Steuben County to Ouabache State Park in Bluffton.

The trail uses the right-of-way of the New York Central railways corridor, Ritchie said.

The completed 13-mile Pufferbelly Trail will run from Lawton Park downtown to Franke Park traveling to northwest Fort Wayne and crossing Washington Center, Carroll, Wallen and Dupont roads and ending at the Allen County line.