Countywide trail plan to be shown to public

By CANDY NEAL
cneal@dcherald.com

A final draft of the countywide bike and pedestrian master plan will be shown to the public next week.

A public meeting is set for 6 p.m. Wednesday at Old Town Hall, 309 N. Geiger St. in Huntingburg. Consultants from VS Engineering and Taylor Siefker Williams Design Group will give a presentation at 6:30 p.m.

“It’s intended to be the final draft. But we really do want public input,” Jasper City Attorney Renee Kabrick said.

The goal of the plan is to identify the locations where trails can be placed to connect communities by foot or bicycle and to help with obtaining grants for those projects. “If you go for a grant and you can show that this a priority in our long-term planning documents,” Kabrick said, “it makes you more competitive.”

Dubois County, Jasper and Huntingburg worked together to obtain a $20,000 planning grant from the Indiana State Department of Health and got donations for the $20,000 match needed for the grant. A steering committee that includes the two cities and Ferdinand has been working with VS Engineering and Taylor Siefker Williams Design Group to create the plan.

The result of the months of work will be shown at the Thursday meeting. “This is an opportunity for the public to see the final draft of the plan,” Kabrick said.

A public engagement survey was conducted online for this project. In the survey, 64% of the county residents who responded said they consider themselves walkers; but 28% considered the county “walkable.” Of the 64% of respondents who considered themselves casual or recreational riders, 13% considered the county “bike-friendly.”

Organizers held a public meeting in May to share information and get public input. At that meeting, consultants explained that there are three methods that could potentially be used to expand routes in the county: creating bike lanes along highways, creating bike and pedestrian routes on roads where the speed limits are no faster than 45 miles per hour, and building new paths that are separated from roads. If the new paths are built, potential connections could be between Huntingburg and Jasper, between Jasper and Ireland, between Ferdinand and Huntingburg, to the Dubois County 4-H Fairgrounds, to Ferdinand State Forest, or to Patoka Lake. Input received at the meeting has been analyzed and incorporated into the plan where needed.

While the organizers hope this is the final document, they are still welcoming public input.

“Someone may look at that draft and say, ‘Wow, you really missed it on this,’ or ‘You should’ve included this,’” Kabrick said. “We would absolutely take that information, think it through and decide if it needed to be added or if any changes needed to be made.”

After the information from Thursday’s meeting is analyzed and the final draft of the plan is completed, it will be sent to the Dubois County Commisssioners for approval. Officials of the communities involved may also take action to show support of the plan, Kabrick said.

Information about the plan can be found at https://tswdesign.mysocialpinpoint.com/dubois-county.




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