A new, multi-use segment of the Pufferbelly Trail is complete!
This 2 mile extension from Washington Center Road to Wallen Road will allow residents who live in northwest Fort Wayne to ride their bikes all the way downtown due to the numerous safe connections the trail provides. The segment connects northwest neighborhoods with Northrop High School, Shawnee Middle School and Lincoln Elementary School via links to existing sidewalks. It connects a large number of neighborhoods to Salomon Farm Park, Parkview Family YMCA and the soon to be paved Dupont Road Trail, as well as Smith Field Airport. And finally, the trail connects to sidewalks on Washington Center Road, which are already connected to sidewalks on Coldwater Road and Clinton Street.
“Fort Wayne and northeast Indiana continue to be leaders in growing our trail network as a way to provide quality of life amenities that are meaningful for residents, neighborhoods, visitors, and businesses,” said Mayor Henry. “The positive momentum and excitement we’re experiencing in our community is evident in part by the popularity of our trails as a way to exercise and connect with people.”
“This section of the Pufferbelly Trail provides countless opportunities for residents to connect safely to a long list of destinations,” said Dawn Ritchie, Greenways and Trails manager for the City of Fort Wayne. “Within a half mile on either side of this new trail, we are connecting to more than 3,720 residents, 193 commercial businesses, 7 institutional facilities and 10 industrial operations.”
This portion of the trail was built in two phases—Wallen Road to Ludwig Road and Ludwig to Washington Center Road—and was grouped with three other sections of the Pufferbelly Trail to obtain Regional Cities funding provided by the Indiana Economic Development Corporation (IEDC). All segments are now complete, including:
• Pufferbelly Trail: State Boulevard to Fourth Street
• Bluffton Road: Lower Huntington Road to West Foster Park/Rivergreenway Connector
• Pufferbelly Trail: State Boulevard to Fernhill Avenue and Franke Park/Fort Wayne Children’s Zoo
“Through the Regional Cities Initiative, northeast Indiana is investing in its long-term future through targeted quality of place projects to enhance Indiana communities and to improve connectivity and livability for Hoosiers,” said Elaine Bedel, president of the Indiana Economic Development Corporation (IEDC). “We’re excited to celebrate the completion of another key initiative, and we look forward to the region’s continued momentum on the Road to One Million residents.”
During today’s event, the Regional Development Authority (RDA) presented a check to Mayor Henry in the amount of $405,971, the third of four installations from the Regional Cities Initiative. The final installment of the pledged $1.8 million will come in January.
Additionally, Fort Wayne Trails presented a check to Mayor Henry for $219,792 for trail development. $50,000 of those funds will go to the pedestrian crossing lights on the Pufferbelly at Wallen, Cook and Ludwig roads. The funds were donated by Fort Wayne residents and businesses to the Fort Wayne Trails, Inc. 100-mile campaign.
Many other sources of community support included funding and land donations from the following:
· Richard Andres
· Mark and Sandi Shambaugh
· Fort Wayne Community Schools
· Greenway Consortium
· Fort Wayne – Allen County Airport Authority
· B&W Equipment
· Federal Highway Administration
· Indiana Department of Natural Resources
Winter on the Trails
In winter months trail usage slows, but interest in using trails in colder months is growing. This year Mayor Henry has asked the City’s Right of Way Department to begin clearing snow on primary and secondary trails. Each time it snows three inches or more, the primary and secondary trails that connect to many of our school areas will be plowed.
In all, the Right of Way staff will plow about 35 miles of trails. Couple that, with the 28 miles of greenways that the Parks and Recreation Department plows, and the 10 to15 miles plowed by schools, universities and businesses, and winter trail usage is expected to increase.
The Name Game
Pufferbelly is the name given to the trail in northwest Fort Wayne because the path closely follows the rail line used by a steam locomotive. The nickname for the steam locomotive is Pufferbelly.
This trail will serve as Fort Wayne’s connection to the 81-mile long State Visionary Trail called the Poka-Bache Connector that will connect Ouabache State Park in Bluffton to Pokagon State Park in Angola.
Regional Cities funding was the “last in” funding and provided the final $1.8 million needed to complete the four segments..