Niles could be ‘Trail Town’Published 9:08pm Thursday, June 28, 2012
In a few years, Niles could be “Trail Town” as well as City of Four Flags.
A 34-mile Indiana-Michigan River Valley Trail would make Niles a destination on Michiana’s dedicated pedestrian highway connecting South Bend, Mishawaka and Roseland.
Niles Charter Township Park Commission, whose chairman, Harry Thibault, convened a meeting Thursday night attended by 20 people, aimed at updating and continuing trail construction.
The parks commission had first approached the Southwest Michigan Planning Commission in November 2008 to request assistance hosting regional trail advocates.
At that time, municipalities were in various stages of trail development and needed to coordinate individual efforts.
At the December 2008 meeting, it was decided a continuous biking/hiking trail between Niles and Mishawaka was feasible and desired.
Representatives from municipalities and advocate agencies volunteered to serve on a trails task force that met monthly and devised a route crossing U.S. 12 at Third Street.
Completed since 2008
• 2.25 miles of trail through the City of Niles in 2010
• Mishawaka’s six-mile downtown trail loop
• Extension of East Race Trail through Indiana University South Bend (IUSB)
• South Bend’s 2.5-mile Riverside Trail
• St. Joseph County’s Darden Road Trail
• New sidewalks along 933 between East Race Trail and Roseland Trail
• 1.1 miles through River Park connecting the East Race to Mishawaka Trails
• Mishawaka’s extension of its downtown trails to Merrifield Park
• Preliminary roadwork for the trail crossing Cleveland Road from Roseland.
in advanced planning
• South Trail (stage one) — Niles Township from the Indiana-Michigan state line to
Brandywine Creek Nature Park just north of U.S. 12. Two grant applications
submitted request $689,000 of the $830,000 estimated cost. They will know in December if they are successful.
In the meantime, they hope to raise the remaining $141,000. Discussed were foundations, businesses along the route recognized with signage, high school students, rides such as Bike the Bend and walk-a-thons.
• North Trail (stage two) — Niles Township through Brandywine Creek
Nature Park to the south end of the Niles city trail, through both city and
township land. Estimated cost is $611,000. Grants will be sought to pay
$433,000 of the cost. The other $178,000 needs to be raised by the city
and township of Niles before construction could begin. Summer 2014 is the
earliest possible construction date.
• St. Joseph County’s LaSalle Trail from Cleveland Road north to the state
line. Fundraising is under way. The crossing at Cleveland road will be timed
with the light at 933 and be the first segment completed.
The City of South Bend hopes to connect the south end of Riverside Trail
at Angela Boulevard to the East Race Trail’s north end by Angela and 933 with
a dedicated trail. Currently bikers can use the roadside trail along Northshore
Drive to get between these two trails.
The abandoned train bridge just north of Angela bridge is still considered a pedestrian pathway possibility.
Sidewalks along 933 from Angela to the Toll Road entrance are five feet
wide and unsuitable for biking. Land along the west side of 933 is owned by Sisters of the Holy Cross, St. Mary’s University, Brothers of the Holy Cross, Holy Cross College and the University of Notre Dame.
North of Niles is the former interurban rail line running to Berrien Springs
and Lake Michigan. Some land reverted to adjacent farmers, but the corridor is largely intact.
The longstanding dream has been a continuous, dedicated trail from Michiana to Lake Michigan. Work in that direction will continue.
West of Niles, Buchanan city has been steadily growing its urban landscape and trail system along McCoy Creek and wants to link to River Valley Trail.