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Walkway system gets $800,000 grant

Gov. Joe Kernan’s office notified Indian Creek Trail leaders yesterday that the three-mile walkway project has received a federal Transportation Enhancement grant of $800,000.
Thirty-five Transportation Enhancement (TE) grants totaling $18.3 million were awarded for various community projects in 31 counties.
‘The high quality of life is one thing businesses mention when they decide to locate their companies in our state,’ said Kernan. ‘This $18 million investment will bring an added vitality and beauty to our communities by enhancing our streets, greenways and walkways. These projects are good for business, and they are good for the state of Indiana.’
‘I think that’s good news, that’s very good news,’ said Bill Gerdon, the long-time chair of the Indian Creek Trail board of directors, yesterday. ‘It’s fantastic to hear this.’
The $800,000 ‘ enabled by a total $212,000 local match guaranteed earlier by the Harrison County Commissioners and Council and the Harrison County Convention and Visitors Bureau ‘ will be used to construct the third and most ambitious leg of the trail, the Frank O’Bannon Memorial Trail. It will run from the west bridge on S.R. 62 in West Corydon to the Hayswood Nature Reserve on the S.R. 135 bypass, where the late governor used to spend time watching birds.
When the system is complete, walkers, runners and bicylists will be able to travel in relative safety from the YMCA of Harrison County on the north to the South Harrison Community School Corp. school campus on the south, and from Rice Island Playground on the east to Hayswood Nature Reserve on the west.
‘I’m thrilled that they awarded us $800,000,’ said Sean Hawkins, the community development manager for the Harrison County Convention and Visitors Bureau.
‘It goes to show that by working together, county government, the CVB, the Harrison County Community Foundation and Indian Creek Trail can make good things happen for the entire county.’
The community foundation gave money for the trail system’s first leg, Logan’s Trail, a 900-foot stretch along Little Indian Creek, and for lighting on the second leg.
The TE grant comes at a time when Main Street Corydon is making plans to develop the former Keller Furniture manaufacturing site on Big Indian Creek. Phase Two of the Indian Creek Trail, a 3,000-foot stretch from the west bridge to the north bridge on Old S.R. 135, is nearing completion on Big Indian across from the Keller plant. Rain and other factors have held up James Gardner’s plans to pour concrete there this fall.
The trail group had been waiting for weeks to hear how the Indiana Dept. of Transportation would recommend how the TE funds would be divvied up around the state. Indian Creek Trail applied for a similar grant two years ago but was turned down.
The effort to build a system of walking/running/bicycling trails along Big and Little Indian creeks goes back to 1996.
Jonathan Swain, Kernan’s press secretary, said TE awards are for community projects that are transportation-related but can’t be used for actual highway projects. The grant awards are given in three categories: historic preservation, commerce and ‘Rails to Trails,’ or bicycle and pedestrian projects.
Lt. Gov. Kathy Davis, who heads the state Dept. of Commerce, said, ‘Often these grant dollars serve as a foundation for broader community development. Now, communities across the state have resources to improve their neighborhoods and attract additional investment and interest in their individual projects while also contributing to the state’s economic growth.’
Indiana First Lady Maggie Kernan will be presenting TE checks around the state in the near future, although it was not known yesterday whether she will be in Corydon to give Indian Creek Trail officials its check.
This year, 141 communities applied for TE funds, which are distributed through INDOT each fall.
TE funding began with the Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act of 1991, which provides states with federal funds for a variety of transportation projects. Applications are reviewed by the TE Selection Committee, which consists of 10 people representing INDOT, the Indiana Dept. of Commerce, the Indiana Dept. of Natural Resources, the Indiana Association of Cities and Towns, the Indiana Association of Counties, the Federal Highway Administration, and a metropolitan planning organztion.