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The Journal Gazette

County extending trail system

Latest leg takes Pufferbelly path northwest

– The Allen County commissioners helped put another leg in the Pufferbelly Trail by agreeing Friday to give Fort Wayne Trails $40,000 to begin construction on an additional half-mile section to the trail in northwest Allen County.

“This trail will bring vibrancy and economic development to the community,” said Lori Rose, executive director of Fort Wayne Trails.

Fort Wayne Trails has raised $40,000, and the county’s matching share was all that was needed to complete the section, Rose said.

The new section is located along the new Tuscany housing development in Perry Township on the northwest corner of Carroll and Corbin roads.

Other trail sections often cost between $500,000 and $1 million to complete, but this one will cost about $200,000, Rose said.

The lower costs were possible because Tuscany subdivision is owned by Jeff and Mike Thomas, who have agreed to use their company surveyor and crews to complete the construction work, Rose said.

In addition, the commissioners approved a construction agreement with the city of Fort Wayne and Brooks Construction for an extra 1.25-mile stretch of the Pufferbelly Trail from Dupont Road to Carroll Road.

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.

Commissioner Linda Bloom has been an advocate for the trails program from the beginning and told Rose she was “simply amazed” at the progress and popularity of the trails.

“I remember when a group of women and young moms came to me with the idea of the trails,” Bloom said. “I never thought it would happen, but look at what has happened.

“What you dedicated ladies did was an amazing feat,” Bloom said.

The county’s share of the project – $408,124 – will be subsidized with about $130,000 left in a $150,000 federal Recreational Trails Program grant administered by the Indiana Department of Natural Resources, Fort Wayne Trails manager Dawn Ritchie said.

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.

The two-year trail project is part of a larger city transportation project that includes the widening of Dupont Road between Lima and Coldwater roads, additional sidewalks, trails and a pedestrian underpass on Dupont slated to begin in 2016.

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