A milestone drew a crowd in celebration of the ribbon cutting for the 100th mile of the Fort Wayne/Allen County Trail Network.
Fort Wayne Mayor Tom Henry, New Haven Mayor Terry McDonald, Allen County Commissioners, State legislators, Allen County Council members and Fort Wayne City Council members, joined an enthusiastic crowd of trail supporters on the 100th mile: the Rivergreenway near the Plex North.
“Our community has become a recognized leader for establishing and growing a trail network that is making a meaningful impact,” said Mayor Henry. “Quality of life amenities, such as trails and greenways, are critical in our collective ability to be competitive for jobs, new businesses and strong neighborhoods. By working together, we’ve made tremendous strides as a city, county and region in becoming a desirable place to live, work and play.”
“I am pleased to celebrate this tremendous accomplishment that benefits all residents of Allen County. The residents of New Haven value our trails and use them every day,” said Mayor McDonald. “We are committed to improving our quality of life for our residents and will continue collaborating for trail connection in the future.”
“As the largest County in the State, I’m proud that we have reached this significant milestone of 100 miles. The development of our trail network is just one more way in which we are setting the example for other Counties to follow. Residents from throughout the County are embracing these connections and are eager to see further growth,” said Allen County Commissioner, Nelson Peters.
The 40 Year Journey
The trail network began in the 1970s when Fort Wayne’s Parks and Recreation Department constructed the first phase of the Rivergreenway near the confluence of the city’s three rivers. Shortly after, the first advocacy and fundraising group, the Greenway Consortium, began work to garner support for future expansion of the Rivergreenway.
In the early 2000s, Northwest Allen Trails and Aboite New Trails formed, increased public awareness, raised matching funds and worked closely with City, State and County governments to move trail projects forward.
In 2005, the City of Fort Wayne moved oversight of the trail program to the Public Works Division, a shift that reflected the philosophy that trails were now a mode of transportation. The result was tremendous growth in Fort Wayne’s network of trails and greenways from 20 miles to more than 75 miles in the city limits today. During the same period, the City of New Haven completed connections to the Rivergreenway and beyond, linking neighborhoods and parks; Allen County added trails with road and bridge projects including the connection between Leo/Cedarville and Grabill; and the State added trails along the Illinois Road (SR 14), Dupont Road (SR 1) and Lima Road (SR 3) highway corridors. Connections grew, tying neighborhoods, communities, waterways and nature together. The unique blend of trail environments embraces both rural and urban public spaces, offering important quality-of-life connections that will enhance our communities for years to come.
“Our 100 mile trail network now connects more than 167,000 people within a 1/2 mile of where they live. That’s significant,” said Dawn Ritchie, Manager, City of Fort Wayne Greenways and Trails. “That connectivity has resulted in an increase in the number of trail users which hit a record of nearly 570,000 users last year. This year’s count is likely to set another record.”
Public/Private Partnerships Essential
While City, County and State support will be critical to future growth, the grassroots efforts of residents and businesses has been essential in raising more than six million dollars to assist with trail design and construction. Those efforts are equally as important as funding from government entities and are part of the Fort Wayne Trails Inc.’s 100 mile fundraising campaign that will run through the end of the year.
"Our mission continues to advocate for trail users and works to connects citizens to the process. Celebrating this occasion by raising $100,000 shows that citizen engagement in trails is alive and well," said Kent Castleman, CEO of Fort Wayne Trails Inc.
Several nationwide and Midwest studies show that trails can attract and grow businesses and increase property values. Those community benefits are recognized by entities such as the Indiana Economic Development Corporation (IEDC), which recently approved funding for portions of the Pufferbelly Trail and the Poka-bache Connector; trails that are part of the State Visionary Trail through Fort Wayne and that are currently under construction.
While we celebrate the completion of today’s milestone, 100 Miles, our Fort Wayne/Allen County Trail network is expected to stand at 107 miles by the end of the year and other projects underway will drive that figure to more than 110 miles by this time next year.
Currently Under Construction
- Pufferbelly Trail from State to Fernhill including a spur to Franke Park – 1.6 miles
- Hanna Street from Burns Boulevard to US 27 – .51 miles
- Pufferbelly Trail from Wallen Road to Ludwig Road – 1.5 miles
- Poka-bache Connector on Bluffton Road from Lower Huntington Road to West Foster Park – 1.5 miles
- Gump Road in an area between SR 3 and Coldwater Road– 1.62 miles
- West Hamilton Road Trail from SR 14 to near Ridge Crest Crossing – .41 miles
- Bass Road Trail, Hadley Road to Clifty Parkway – 1.27 miles
Completed in 2017
- Six Mile Creek Trail from Anthony to Lemer Drive- .93 miles
- Southtown Center Phase 2 from the Public Safety Academy to Anthony Boulevard – .58 miles
- Mayesville/Trier/Landin at the Roundabout – .22 miles
- Pemberton Levee from the Rivergreenway to Lake Avenue – .47 miles
- Lima Road and Winnsboro Pass (Parkview frontage) — .17 miles
- New Haven Community Center – .4 miles
- Foster Park interior trail – .44 miles
- Rivergreenway South of California Road to St. Joe Center Road – 1.2 miles
- Vesey Park Trail to Pufferbelly – .26 miles