A portion of the proposed Indiana Michigan River Valley Trail would cross U.S. 12 at Third Street on the east side. Leader photo/CRAIG HAUPERT
A portion of the proposed Indiana Michigan River Valley Trail would cross U.S. 12 at Third Street on the east side. Traffic here is crossing U.S. 12 on Third Street. Leader photo/CRAIG HAUPERT

Archived Story

Dangerous crossing? Board questions safety of River Valley Trail

Published 2:41pm Tuesday, February 26, 2013

The Indiana Michigan River Valley Trail appears to have hit a bump in the road.

Two Niles Charter Township trustees and Township Supervisor Jim Stover have expressed concerns over the safety of a proposed plan that includes the trail crossing U.S. 12.

Chris Vella, trustee, voiced her concern at a board meeting in early February. Since then, Stover and trustee Dick Noble have joined in.

On Monday, the township board will hold a special meeting to discuss the best way to proceed with the trail crossing at Third Street and U.S. 12.

“If I am going to put my name or approval on this, I better be sure as a I can be it is as safe as it can be for the kids,” Vella said.

The proposed crossing plan — engineered by Wightman & Associates — has the trail crossing U.S. 12 on the east side. The plan includes several safety measures, including the installation of a marked crosswalk, pedestrian signals, pedestrian push buttons and additional signage. A stop light system is already installed at the intersection.

Board members aren’t sure the plan is safe enough.

U.S. 12 is a four-lane highway with left and right turn lanes where it crosses Third Street. The speed limit at the intersection is 55 miles per hour. Vella said pedestrians would have to cross 116 feet of road to get to the other side.

“I think we can do better,” she said.

Stover said he’d like to see a pedestrian bridge installed over the highway.

“If we construct a trail and we guide these people across U.S. 12 and someone should get hurt, I feel that we’ve contributed to that and I don’t want part of that,” Stover said.

To build a pedestrian bridge, Stover said, would cost an estimated $1 million — money the township doesn’t have. Stover said he hopes to learn more about possible options for the trail crossing at U.S. 12 during Monday’s special meeting at 6 p.m. at township hall.

The Indiana Michigan River Valley Trail, when finished, will connect Mishawaka, Ind., to Niles with 34 miles of multi-use trail. Niles Charter Township’s portion of the trail covers about five miles from the state line to Niles.

The majority of the trail is already built, with about three miles in Indiana and five in Michigan remaining.

Most of the trail in Niles Township is being funded through state grants.

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