Chesterton Tribune                                                                                   Adv.

Porter pedestrian walk may be cut short of US 20

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Porter Redevelopment Commission members voted 4-0 Tuesday to study terminating the planned Orchard Pedestrian Way hike/bike trail at Orchard Apartments rather than at U.S. 20, a reduction of about 25 percent. Estimated savings have yet to be calculated.

Pressure from residents north of Interstate 94 opposed to the trail on Waverly Roads west side prompted the town to reconsider the time and cost --- and possible lawsuits --- involved with land acquisition, which is proving to be a stumbling block.

The final decision to shorten the trail is not entirely the towns own.

Town director of engineering Matt Keiser said Porter was awarded a $1.4 million federal congestion mitigation air quality grant about seven years ago to help fund the trail from League Lane at Woodlawn Avenue west to Waverly, then north with a jog through Hawthorne Park to U.S. 20. CMAQ funds are used to provide alternate means of transportation, such as hike/bike trails, that will reduce vehicle emissions.

Keiser said he believes Porter can amend its CMAQ grant request if it still can show a number of people from the apartments and surrounding area would walk/bike to downtown Porter rather than drive. The original grant used the number of people who would walk/bike to Splash Down Dunes on Waverly just north of U.S. 20.

Do we need to go to Splash Down Dunes any more? Keiser asked in light of the planned Dunes Kankakee Trail along Indiana 49 just east of Waverly Road. Keiser said Porter could develop a leg of that trail connecting it to the Orchard Pedway.

Keiser also said if the Northwestern Indiana Regional Planning Commission and a CMAQ oversight committee approve shortening the pedway and reducing its cost, Porter could ask to use the unallocated grant funds for other uses such as sidewalks or more energy-efficient municipal vehicles.

If the trail is shortened, We still have some (land) acquisition but not nearly as much as before, said Keiser.

The Indiana Department of Transportation, he explained, determined that the right-of-way deeds for U.S. 20, U.S. 12 and Indiana 49 in Porter were not recorded in a timely manner; courts have determined that anyone wanting to expand the footprint along the highways has to re-acquire the property.

Some Hunters Glen residents voiced opposition during a pedway public hearing earlier this year over a retaining wall that would have to be built along their Waverly Road properties. Members of the Tilden Family, which owns Pats Liquors at Waverly and U.S. 20, also remonstrated saying having the trail cross the end of their parking lot would be dangerous and detrimental to their business.

A pedestrian bridge that crosses the Little Calumet River north of Hawthorne Park was built for the pedway earlier this year using funds from another grant program; approaches to the bridge are accessible but pedestrians/bikers now have to resume walking along Waverly Road.

Keiser said another reason to study not taking the pedway all the way to U.S. 20 are issues related to the at-grade crossing there at the Waverly intersection.

On another matter Tuesday, the Redevelopment Commission approved spending $259 for Keiser to attend a 12-state trails conference next month in Michigan. The Town Council later approved his absence.

Regarding the long-delayed Brickyard Trail for Porters west side, Keiser said plans are being changed to provide for a possible bridge instead of a tunnel near U.S. 20 and Howe Road to save money on that project. The bridge would use concrete supports and switchbacks instead of earthen abutments to support the structure.

The commission again discussed the prospect of purchasing additional sanitary sewer capacity from the town of Chesterton, which processes Porters sewage, but with this years deadline already having passed there are two more opportunities in 2010 and 2011. Commission vice-president Al Raffin said Porter has 11 months to study how it wants to proceed.

Member Micheal Genger was absent.



Posted 9/23/2009




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