Newspaper article Evansville Courier & Press (2007-Current)

Hitting the TRAIL

Newspaper article Evansville Courier & Press (2007-Current)

Hitting the TRAIL

Article excerpt

The idea of a walking path to connect Burdette Park to the University of Southern Indiana was first brought up about 25 years ago. But until 2008, it was nothing more than a plan. Now, the trail is almost completely finished. There hasn't yet been an official ribbon cutting because a few final items need to be installed. But judging by the amount of traffic, the paved, 3.2 mile greenway is already a hit.

"We don't have all the signs up yet, but the trail was completed in 2011, late in the year," said Steve Craig, Burdette Park Manager.

"We still have some finish work going on now. The word is out about it even though we haven't had our ribbon cutting."

The trail winds its way through Burdette Park, across Nurrenbern Road and Broadway Avenue, to the intramural ball diamonds built by USI. It splits offon the USI campus to dormitories and athletic facilities, and has been heavily used by students and others.

"It has been incredibly popular," said Craig. "We couldn't even get it built and people were walking through the construction sites to use it. It has had high use, not only from park patrons and USI, but also from the public in general."

The trail was built in four segments. It starts at the Discovery Lodge in Burdette Park and twists through woods and farm land. The last segment was paved in late 2011, though the final coats of asphalt were not added to the trail until this spring.

"We got started with the help of the Vanderburgh County Commissioners, and we went from there," said Craig. "Originally, we'd envisioned it being done by 2015. But we applied and got two grants for a total of $2,080,000. That enabled us to build it in a much shorter period of time."

The Indiana Transportation Enhancement Award grants - which are specifically for nonmotorized transportation - covered about two- thirds of the total cost of the project. The rest of the money came from user fees or other funds, and did not come from local taxes.

"That grant money can't be spent on roads," said Craig. "And none of the funding came from tax dollars. Some people complain when you spend tax money, but this was money that put into those accounts that was sitting around to build trails. …

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