Consultants selected for countywide trail plan

Marlena Sloss/The Herald
Ethan Uppencamp of Petersburg plays disc golf at Niehaus Park, just beyond the park’s pedestrian trail, in Huntingburg on Wednesday. Local officials are looking into connecting communities through trails.

By CANDY NEAL
cneal@dcherald.com

Plans for creating a countywide trail master plan are slowly progressing.

A committee of local officials is working with consultants VS Engineering and Taylor Siefker Williams Design Group to discuss the scope of creating a plan. The group, which currently includes representatives from Dubois County, Jasper and Huntingburg, met last week.

“They're going to be helping us with this planning process,” Jasper City Attorney Renee Kabrick said Tuesday. “That is just getting underway.”

The Indiana State Department of Health awarded a $20,000 bicycle and pedestrian master planning grant for the project, and the $20,000 match for the grant was raised through private donations.

Officials are waiting for the grant agreement from the state to receive the funding. The award was announced in early March. Kabrick hopes the formal agreement will be delivered in the next 30 days. She said the process was slow due to COVID-19.

Although Dubois County, Huntingburg and Jasper are the partners in the grant application, the goal is to include the entire county in the master plan.

“I think we want some kind of [trail] lines on the map throughout the county so that everybody is included,” Dubois County Commissioner Elmer Brames said at the commissioners’ meeting on Monday. The plan would likely prioritize the different proposed trails to see when they would be considered for construction.

“If any of this ever comes to reality, it will be the most used areas and the most feasible areas, where we get the most bang for the buck” that would be considered first, Brames explained. “Some connection perhaps between Jasper and Huntingburg would be a primary consideration. And maybe a connection between Dubois County Park and Cedar Crest School. But then the rest of the county might be 10, 20 years down the road. We don't know. ”

But the discussions for where trails or connections could be laid have not happened yet.

“We haven't gone into this kind of depth in our discussion,” Kabrick said. “We’re at the beginning of this process.”

At the moment, Jasper has its comprehensive plan and is working on a transportation plan that will include bike and pedestrian trails, Kabrick said. Huntingburg completed its comprehensive plan last year. Comprehensive plans include long-term goals for future improvements within cities, and include ideas for trails and walking paths.

“This bicycle and pedestrian master planning grant is intended to be the mechanism that helps all those communities become connected,” Kabrick said.

Terms of the grant designate when a plan must be completed. “Right now,” Kabrick said, “our plan is to have this countywide bike and pedestrian plan completed by the end of June 2021.”

In this process, public input will be taken, Brames said. With COVID-19, the consultants are looking into how to have public listening sessions in a safe way, he said.




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