2015 saw an increase in usage of the City trails. The 67 miles of trails owned and maintained by the City of Fort Wayne showed counts of 408, 811 in 2015. That’s an increase of nearly 37,000 compared to 2014 when the year-end count was 371,916. Infrared counters are utilized to track trail users on City trails each year.
"It’s thrilling that Fort Wayne residents continue to embrace our trails and that we are seeing an increase in trail usage in our City,” said Dawn Ritchie, Director of Greenways and Trails for the City of Fort Wayne. “Trails are not only a way to get exercise but a way to see the community from a different perspective and are an excellent mode of active transportation. We will continue our expansion efforts as we work to connect neighborhoods throughout the City.”
The ten-percent trail count increase from 2014 to 2015 is a remarkable feat when you consider that the months that are normally two of the busiest of the year, June and July, were marked by nearly four weeks of heavy rain that topped historical records and caused lengthy periods of flooded trails in 2015. In 2014 the trail usage count for June and July was 96,373, compared to 72,252 in those same months in 2015.
The City has a total of 14 infrared counters tracking users on City trails and greenways. 2015 marks the only the second time the count has gone above 400,000. The other year was 2012 when we had a mild winter and good spring and summer weather.
According to US Census data (2013), 86,247 Fort Wayne residents live within a half mile of a trail. While that data is encouraging compared to where we were ten years ago, the City of Fort Wayne is moving forward with efforts to expand our trail network and connect more neighborhoods inside the City limits– not only with each other but with the entire northeast Indiana region.
“We are moving forward with efforts in the City to expand our trail network and connect more neighborhoods in Fort Wayne and the entire northeast Indiana region. While we continue to add to the City’s nearly 70 miles of trails we are also working to make more connections to the other 20 miles in the County and the surrounding Regional Trail Network. Already that network is 90 miles in Allen County and as we work closely with our partners, Allen County, the Indiana Department of Transportation (INDOT), the Northeastern Indiana Regional Coordinating Council (NIRCC) and Fort Wayne Trails Inc., we are confident that most residents in our region will soon have safe trail access connecting to multiple destinations and cities,” said Ritchie.
The City along with Fort Wayne Trails Inc. and Allen, Dekalb, Steuben and Wells counties are working together to build the State Visionary Trail that will connect Pokagon State Park in Angola to Ouabache State Park in Bluffton. Currently about 22 miles of the 80 mile trail, which will come through Fort Wayne, have been completed.
Trails slated for completion this year in Fort Wayne include: Illinois Road from Reckeweg Road to Magnavox Way and McKinnie Avenue from South Anthony Boulevard to Hessen Cassel Road, Liberty Mills Road from Homestead Road to Middle Grove, as well as the extension of the Renaissance Pointe Trail, and the Covington Road Trail to the City limits that will connect with a County trail to West Hamilton Road.
Projects that will begin construction this year to be completed in 2017 include Hanna Street from Pontiac to Rudisill, The Six Mile Creek Trail Phase 1 from Southtown Centre to the intersection of Tillman Road and Lemar Drive and a trail in the Summit Park business area.
In 2015 the City completed trail projects on Lower Huntington Road, Oxford Street, Hanna Street and Maplecrest Road.
About the City of Fort Wayne Greenways and Trails
The City of Fort Wayne’s Greenways began as part of the Parks and Recreation Division. From 1975 to 2005 the Parks Division built the 20 mile Rivergreenway. In 2005, as interests grew and more residents began using the trails, the current City Greenways and Trails Department moved to the Public Works Division, a fitting move as the community’s view of trails shifted from recreation to active transportation.
The move helped the City increase its trail miles from the 20 of the Rivergreenway to nearly 70 miles today. Of the 70 City miles – the City designed and constructed 52 miles. An additional 18 miles were built in the City limits by the Indiana Department of Transportation (INDOT), Allen County, Aboite New Trails, housing developers, medical facilities and universities. Three of the miles in the City limits are maintained privately.
City Greenways and Trails Director, Dawn Ritchie, has managed the projects since 2005. During that time she has served with numerous State and national trail organizations and in 2015 was honored by Mid America Trails and Greenways (MATAG), receiving Indiana’s Outstanding Trail Person Award. MATAG is a regional organization made up of trail leaders from Minnesota, Iowa, Missouri, Wisconsin, Illinois, Michigan, Kentucky, Ohio and Indiana. The award recognized Dawn for significant and exemplary service to trails planning, construction, implementation and recreation.