Funding has been secured to extend the Erie Trail by a little over 2 miles.
The Prairie Trails Club was awarded a grant totaling $390,750 through the Department of Natural Resources’ Next Level Trails grant program.
The proposed plan that was presented to North Judson Town Council members back in January mentioned extending the trail about 2 miles east from US 35 toward the Pulaski County line.
During that same presentation, it was reported that the Hoosier Valley Railroad museum owns the property where the expansion will take place and they have provided their approval for it to be utilized.
According to program officials, Next Level Trails is the largest infusion of trails funding in state history. In this initial funding round, 17 communities and non-profit organizations were awarded a total of $24.9 million for about 42 miles of new trail development.
In addition to the funds awarded, the 17 recipients collectively contributed $12.5 million in matching value, resulting in a total investment of $37.4 million. The program requires a minimum 20 percent project match, which could include monetary contributions, land value, and in-kind donations of materials and labor.
DNR Director Cameron Clark stated that the additional leverage provided by community partners going above and beyond the program match requirement speaks to the local support these projects have and helps stretch the dollars for more miles of trail.
In an announcement made about the program, Governor Eric Holcomb mentioned that the state’s growing network of trails is more than a recreational and transportation amenity.
He noted that it’s an important tool for economic development by helping Indiana attract and retain the best workforce in the country.
Three rounds of funding are planned and DNR expects to announce the next applications period later this year.