Countywide bike, pedestrian plan complete

By CHRISTINE STEPHENSON
cstephenson@dcherald.com

Dubois County is one step closer to becoming more bike and pedestrian friendly.

A final draft of the Countywide Bike and Pedestrian Master Plan is complete and available online. The draft which is more than 120 pages, extensively outlines details of the plan from preferred routes' potential funding to a five-year implementation outline.

A steering committee including representatives from Jasper, Huntingburg and Ferdinand has been working with Taylor Siefker Williams Design Group and VS Engineering to create the plan, which will identify where trails can be placed to connect communities by foot or bicycle. The group held two public hearings, one in May and one in June, to present the plan to the public and receive feedback, in addition to online feedback opportunities.

The final draft shows more than 200 miles total of prioritized on-street routes, one 109-mile project for cyclists and one 108-mile project for cyclists and pedestrians. These routes, which would be implemented on existing roads by adding signage and promoting the new designation, are high-priority projects due to ease of implementation and low overall costs.

The plan also outlines the order of prioritization of potential shared-use paths in the county, which would be non-motorized and separated from the road. The paths were prioritized by county officials based on a number of factors, such as cost, ease of implementation and how much the path would connect the county.

The routes have been prioritized in the following order: Jasper to Huntingburg, Huntingburg to Ferdinand, Ferdinand to Ferdinand State Forest, Jasper to Ireland, Jasper to Patoka Lake and a county fairgrounds route.

County leaders agreed that a route connecting Jasper and Huntingburg would be well-used and feasible compared to other routes. The shared-use path will parallel Old Huntingburg Road, connecting the Jasper Little League Park to the planned Huntingburg trail on Chestnut Street. Other options connecting the two cities were considered but ultimately eliminated due to environmental issues. The total length of the preferred route is approximately 4.4 miles, and the planning-level budget is $4,794,646.

Routes connecting Huntingburg to Ferdinand were deemed the next highest priority. The two preferred potential routes are one that uses the old Ferdy Flier railbed, beginning along Industrial Park Road in Ferdinand and connecting to East First Street in Huntingburg near Municipal Park and League Stadium, and one that uses South Ferdinand Road Northwest and West 700 South to connect to the south side of Huntingburg.

The potential routes can still be re-prioritized in the future due to factors such as grant availability.

The draft also includes a five-year implementation plan for how exactly the projects could be completed. For now, the plan first needs to be adopted by each individual community.

These projects can be funded in many ways, as the plan outlines. Funding could come from the federal level, such as the Land and Water Conservation Fund and COVID-19 relief funds, the state level, such as an Indiana Trails Program grant, the regional level, such as TIF districts and the Dubois County Community Foundation, and from private donations or grants.

The full draft, including maps of the prioritized routes, is available here.




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