Riverwalk extension taking final steps

Photos by Traci Westcott/The Herald
Quality Craft Construction Inc. worker David Porter, right, works on making grade for the blacktop to be replaced as construction continues on the Riverwalk trail extension along 15th Street in Jasper on Tuesday.


JASPER — Jasper will soon take another step toward increased pedestrian connectivity.

Within the next month, work will wrap up on a roughly 1 1/2-mile extension of the Riverwalk. The new asphalt path will run from the trail’s 15th Street entrance to Buffalo Trace Golf Course.

Part of a master plan that aims to one day complete a 10- to 11-mile multi-use trail loop around the city, the roughly $2.2 million project is being backed by a Indiana Department of Transportation grant that covered 80% of the total costs. The city is contributing about $436,800 in local dollars to the project.

“It’s a quality of life thing,” City Engineer Chad Hurm said of the city’s growing trail system. “It’s an alternative form of transportation if they’re [residents] in the right location. It’s also a means of exercising. It’s a means of connecting different things within the city.”

When completed, walkers and joggers will be able to run from the north end of the Riverwalk at 15th Street to Kellerville Road, north to Cathy Lane, along the south side of Cathy Lane to a point even with 23rd Street and the north side of Calumet Lake, then west along 23rd Street to the west side of Mill Street then north along Mill Street to the north edge of Buffalo Trace Golf Course. Hurm explained that from there, the path is not set, but the city will eventually get to Northwood Avenue and follow it to St. Charles.

A pair of crews that started on opposite ends of the project have since converged near the Ditto Sales building on Cathy Lane. Storm sewer work, excavation, soil stabilization, rock layering and base asphalt laying have all been part of the work. More of the same, as well as ditch regrading, curb and gutter enhancements, site work and laying a surface coat of asphalt all lie ahead.

Prism Engineering workers Steve Willis, left, and Adam West stake out the Riverwalk trail extension along 15th Street in Jasper on Tuesday.

The first two phases of the project took place in the early and mid-2000s and facilitated the establishing of the trail on St. Charles Street — near Jasper High School — as well as the expansion of that trail on St. Charles Street from Schuetter Road to Northwood Avenue.

Someday, trail systems could tie together many communities in Dubois County on a much larger scale.

“We’re discussing actually connecting with, potentially a trail to Huntingburg,” Hurm said. “And a trail [from] Huntingburg to Ferdinand. Just regionally, not even just within Jasper or within Huntingburg, we’re actually talking about connecting those communities.”

That’s still a ways off, Hurm stressed. But, those conversations have begun.

In addition to the improved connectivity, he also pointed to the positive health benefits that come with walking or bike riding to stay in shape. Jasper residents already utilize the city’s trails for that purpose, and Hurm sees the addition only bolstering usage numbers.

“It’s amazing how many people use the Riverwalk and the section along St. Charles,” Hurm said. “I bet there’s a dozen 5Ks a year that use a combination of those two trails. And then just adding to it is gonna increase the ability for those people to do that.”

Though nothing is set in stone, the next phase of the project would likely expand the trail’s reach from Buffalo Trace to St. Charles Street — bridging the two sides after years of disconnection. A preliminary route has been drawn, but it could change, and how the city would fund the extension has not yet been determined.

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