Steady Progress on City Trail System

The City of Huntington’s trail system is expanding. The project gained momentum on December 11 when city officials finalized a Regional Cities Agreement with the Northeast Indiana Regional Business Partnership and the Indiana Economic Development Council.

The Regional Cities agreement will provide over $255,000 in reimbursement for expansion of the Little River Trails from Jefferson Street to the Erie Rail Trail Bridge. Construction for this phase of the trail system, also known as Section Four, has already begun. City officials expect to complete Section Four in the Spring of 2017.

Anthony Goodnight, Director of Public Works and Engineering Services, knows that building a trail system is not a quick process. “It takes multiple communities and stakeholders to achieve this level of improvement,” said Goodnight. “We’re starting with the low-hanging fruit, the trails that are easiest to pursue. Eventually we’ll connect the missing links until all of Huntington’s trails are interconnected.”

Building a complete trail system may take time, but residents and visitors can enjoy the improvements as they happen.

“Section Four is progressing and the Riverside Drive section has been opened to traffic for the winter. Work will continue on that section in the Spring,” said Goodnight, “ and Schenkel Station is set to open in early Spring.”

Schenkel Station, a hub for trails and bike routes, is the result of sustainable urban planning. The City of Huntington, in cooperation with the Huntington Area Recreational Trails Association (HARTA), is rehabilitating a 1920’s-era brick building for use by trailgoers.

Schenkel Station is the former Wabash Train Depot located at 11 W. State Street. It will serve as a “rest stop” of sorts. In addition to building improvements and new restrooms, the city has invested in an upgraded parking lot, lighting, a tri-level drinking fountain, benches, and bike racks. The facility will be ADA-compliant.

The goal of Schenkel Station is to increase users’ enjoyment of the trails and serve as a central hub for the expanding trail system.

“Schenkel Station will be staffed by volunteers and will be a great benefit to Huntington residents,” said Goodnight. “We look forward to opening the building back up and welcoming guests into the renovated space.”

Projected Growth

Plans to expand the trail system to the north and south are already in the works. The City of Huntington will take bids for the Erie Rail Trail (Section Three) in January of 2017. Goodnight hopes to have Section Three completed by late spring or early summer of 2017.

“The Erie Rail Trail is an exciting next step in the process to connect all of our trails and eventually connect with other cities,” said Goodnight.

Goodnight envisions a more sophisticated trail system developing over the next several years, where bicyclists can ride 10-15 miles or more. “We’re working our way out from downtown in several directions,” said Goodnight, “I have heard there is movement in the City of Wabash to connect their trail system through Lagro. This could be a good direction for our next trail project.”

When asked how far he might take the trail system, Goodnight had this to say, “As long as expanding the trail system benefits Huntington residents, we will continue pursuing construction as funding and time allow.”

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