project to improve
states walking trails
would still be
responsible for creating them
(July 2006) Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels wants
Hoosiers to take a hike. He means that in a nice way. In
April, Daniels called for plans to significantly improve Indianas
by Michele Turner
DNR Director Kyle Hupfer
(right with back turned) discusses the
Indiana Trails project at a June 22 meeting.
The Indiana Department of Natural Resources (DNR) has
worked with the Indiana Department of Transportation (INDOT) to draft
the Indiana Trails Plan. This plan was presented May 31 at a statewide
summit. Regional follow-up sessions for public contribution were announced.
The first of these was held June 15 at the Clifty Inn in Madison.
DNR Director Kyle Hupfer and INDOT Director of Greenways and Bikeways,
Ray Irvin, took questions from the public on the plan. Also attending
were state Sen. Jim Lewis, City of Madison Parks Director Dave Munier,
representatives of Madisons Heritage Trail committee and several
members of the Madison Area Bicycle Club. Julie Rubio, Heritage Trail
secretary said, Were excited that the state and Governor
Daniels have given trails a boost in the arm.
This plan is a significant move for Indiana, officials said. At the
May 31 Trail Summit, Daniels announced that the state government will
commit at least $10 million of new funding to kick off the state trails
initiative. The new state funding will supplement the approximately
$10 million already allotted annually from Transportation Enhance-ment
(TE) and other federal funding for trail projects.
According to the Hoosier Rails to Trails Councils website, While
every state now receives and disburses TE funds, such a voluntary supplement
by the state has typically come only from renowned pro-trail states,
such as Wisconsin or Ohio.
Hupfer gave three primary reasons for the desired improvement of the
states trails system. This is a quality of life issue first
and foremost. People enjoy these trails for walking, biking and
in-line skating. Secondly, they have the potential to promote economic
by Michele Turner
Trail secretary Julie Rubio of
Madison (left) poses with Indiana
DNR Director Kyle Hupfer. She calls the
project a boost in the arm.
They may increase property values near the trails; lead
to greater tourism; lead to new restaurants, lodging, bike shops, etc;
and have a positive impact on the health of a communitys citizens
and therefore decrease health care costs for incoming business.
This leads to the third major reason: Weve got to become
a healthier state, Hupfer said. Indiana is consistently at the
top of the list for healthcare costs. Obesity and all its health-related
issues are a big problem in Indiana.
There are other value added features of trails. One is using the trails
for co-located infrastructure. This would involve combining
utility corridors with the trails. These corridors could connect towns
throughout rural Indiana for sharing services such as waste water treatment.
Irvin of INDOT, said, Much of the state is still on septic. Such
areas could be connected through utility corridors to waste water treatment
plants in larger towns.
According to the plan, waste water facilities in one community and fresh
water facilities in another could support an entire region at a fraction
of the cost communities now spend having to develop and maintain their
Im glad to hear that the state is looking into this possibility,
said Jim Turner, Utilities Manager for Madison. Because of our
location on the river, Madison has the ability to produce water that
could be sold to other communities who have a real problem with water
DNRs Hupfer calls the Indiana Trails Plan a mechanism for
statewide connectivity. Currently, communities generally work
on their trails either locally or regionally, and rarely do they connect
cities or counties.
This is a bottom up process, Hupfer said. Locals will still
have to build their trails. The state will assist with the interconnectors.
If communities know where the connectors are going to be, they can design
their future trails accordingly.
For more information about the Indiana
Trails Plan, visit the DNR website at: www.in.gov/dnr/trailsplan
or call Susanna Arvin, DNR Outdoor Recreation Planner, at (317) 232-4069.
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