Schererville cuts ribbon on Pennsy Greenway extension
Schererville's bike trail network continues to grow. The town and its partners cut the ribbon Wednesday on a 2.3-mile extension of the Pennsy Greenway Trail, although the finishing touches are expected to continue into June. The project extends the trail from Rohrman Park southeast to Clark Road, thanks, in part, to a $2.9 million Next Level Trails grant from the state.
Dan Bortner, the director of the Indiana Department of Natural Resources, said communities have long sought to build trails on abandoned railroad corridors, and the program has given them the money to build those connections. "Let me just say, on behalf of Governor Holcomb, the Indiana Department of Natural Resources and Hoosiers across this landscape we all call home, thank you to each of you for your passion that you bring to trails and to your communities," Bortner told those gathered for Wednesday's ribbon cutting. "Memories will be made here for generations to come."
The new section is part of the larger Pennsy Greenway that currently extends to Munster, Lansing and Calumet City. That, in turn, has been designated part of the Great American Rail-Trail. When completed, it would run from coast to coast, using off-road trails. Trail advocates say that will bring a big boost to communities like Schererville.
Liz Thorstensen is the vice president of trail development at the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy. "A recent study that Rails-to-Trails Conservancy conducted showed that, when complete, the Great American Rail-Trail has the potential to see over $220 million in annual visitor spending alone in the communities along its route," Thorstensen said, "and that was a very conservative estimate, I should add."
For now, the next step is to connect the trail east to the current Erie-Lackawanna Trail and the planned Veterans Memorial Trail through Crown Point, Hebron and beyond. "We thought we had a route through the White Hawk Golf Course area, but there was some wetlands over there, and the costs started to get really exorbitant and we had to kind of balk at that," explained Northwestern Indiana Regional Planning Commission Active Transportation Planner Mitch Barloga. "So the new route that has been discussed between local officials there is along 91st from the Pennsy to where the Erie-Lackawanna crosses 91st."
Barloga said Northwest Indiana's in the midst of a "burgeoning of trails," with five trail segments set to open this year.