Why is the trail needed?
Over the past three decades there has been a negative growth rate in Wabash County’s population and economy. The county currently has the lowest percentage of young professionals ages 25-44 out of the 11 counties that constitute Northeast Indiana. Without more employment opportunities and better quality of living, Wabash County will continue to have a higher risk of migration leading to decreased economic growth and opportunity. Trails, both greenways and blueways, are a “high value” amenity that individuals and families seek when they relocate to a community. They also promote a healthy lifestyle for the entire age population within the community. A healthy and vibrant trail system not only attracts, but also assists in the retention of talent and businesses within a community.
How can trails provide economic benefit?
Trails help promote economic development including: restaurants, cafes, outfitters, shopping, and lodging businesses. They also support the current service industry that is in place within communities by increasing tourism. This vitality also attracts larger business to establish themselves within the community.
Who uses these trails?
People of all ages use trails for walking, running, and cycling. The WRT will also offer access to the Wabash River for canoeing and kayaking. Currently plans are in place to enlarge and improve the boat launch in Lagro to help facilitate an easier entrance onto the river.
Where is this trail going and will it connect with other trails?
The ultimate plan for the WRT is to run from Huntington to Peru, connecting to the Nickel Plate Trail in Peru and to the Huntington trail system at the Forks of the Wabash. It will also connect with the Wabash River walk in the town of Wabash.
Where can I get on the WRT?
When the Lagro section of Phase 1 is completed, there will be two trailhead parking areas (Kerr Lock and Lagro Community Center). In addition to this, other amenities will include public restrooms, signage, a plaza, pavilion, picnic areas, and an improved hand carry boat launch for canoes and kayaks.
How will the trail be funded?
The WRT will primarily be funded with private donations and applicable grants.
Who is going to maintain the trail?
An operational budget is part of the overall construction cost. After the trail is complete, other avenues, such as “Friends of the WRT” will be created. This is an opportunity for people to make donations to help maintain the trail.
How will land be acquired?
WRT has a policy of only constructing the trail on property acquired from willing sellers. The not-for-profit has no authority to condemn property. In instances where the trail is unable to stay on the proposed alignment because a property owner is unwilling to sell, WRT will reroute the trail around the property owner so that the trail route continues uninterrupted. WRT identifies the property to be acquired based on preliminary alignment plans for the trail and the current GIS property ownership data. WRT then contacts property owners and informs them of the trail project and discusses their potential interest in donating, leasing, or selling property to WRT for trail development. WRT then pursues negotiations to purchase the property, conducts required property surveys, prepares closing documents, and executes the final transfer of the property. In instances where WRT is planning trail development on public property (i.e. Town of Lagro, City of Wabash, etc.) WRT coordinates with the community and enters into a Memorandum of Agreement with them to obtain the needed permission for trail development on public property.
Do other cities/states have trail systems?
Yes, all states have trail systems and more are being developed because of the benefits they provide. The state of Michigan tops the list in the United States with 2,500 miles of just biking trails which they are constantly expanding.
Will there be events on the WRT?
When Phase 1 is completed, the plan is to host several recreational events which could include running and cycling events along with water activities. It will also be a part of the Dam – to - Dam Ride as an option to pedal to Lagro and back to Wabash on easier and flatter terrain.
How will safety be addressed?
Safety is the top priority for the design and operation of the WRT. All federal safety standards will be followed in the development of the final construction documents for the trail. These include, but are not limited to: AASHTO, MUTCD, ADA, OSHA and INDOT and local construction standards. Trail signage, pavement markings and access control will all be provided to clearly identify the trail route, access and use information, and general safety guidelines and emergency contact information. The trail will be designed with hours of operation from dawn to dusk as is typical for trails of this type. When the trail must route around private property it will be routed along the safest alternate route. At times this may include routing trail users onto County roads. At these locations, the WRT will be clearly marked for trail users and motorists with proper warning signs, access control, and pavement markings to maximize safety in these locations.
How can I support the trail?
The WRT will need donations, both monetary and in-kind, as we continue to move forward. You can also help when there are cleanup days along the trail. This will be communicated through our various Social Media outlets including, our website, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.