New U.S. 6 trail will connect to Walmart

Article by Steve Garbacz of KPC Media

City approves design of new trail on north side of highway

KENDALLVILLE — Kendallville is hoping to get pedestrians heading to Walmart off the side of U.S. 6 and onto a new walking path.

The Kendallville Redevelopment Commission OK’d up to $47,000 Wednesday morning to begin design work on a new 10-foot wide trail between Allen Chapel Road and Walmart as part of ongoing efforts to install more pathways along U.S. 6.

City engineer Scott Derby presented a preliminary drawing for the trail, which would start at Dowling Street and run north along Allen Chapel Road to U.S. 6. Pedestrians would then cross at a new pedestrian crossing to the north side of the highway, where they could continue all the way to the driveway leading back to the Walmart shopping complex at Progress Drive.

Originally, the city had planned to put the trail on the south side of U.S. 6, but there wasn’t enough available right-of-way to build in, Derby said. Beyond that, most of the foot traffic in the area is heading to Walmart, anyway, so it made sense to build on the north side.

By shifting the trail onto the north side of the road, the city can connect into an existing walking path from the Arvada Hills housing addition, which would allow those residents access to the city’s wider walking/biking network.

“Now that entire Arvada Hills neighborhood would have pedestrian or bike access to Walmart without getting on Allen Chapel Road or U.S. 6,” Derby said.

Engineering firm DLZ could start design work immediately, Derby said. Construction would be several months away at the earliest and a preliminary cost estimate to build the trail and set up the new pedestrian crossing at the Allen Chapel/U.S. 6 intersection would be around $353,000, Derby said.

The expenses could be paid for out of funds from the city’s eastside tax-increment financing district, which is why the request came before the redevelopment commission, which controls those funds. Derby said the city is also planning to discuss the project with Walmart officials to see if they would cooperate with the project, since the new trail would help foot traffic going to the store.

Commission members approved funding the design costs up to $47,000 on a 3-0 vote. Two members were absent.

“It’s certainly a worthwhile thing to do and ties into everything else,” commission president Ray Scott said. “I like the way it’s tying into Arvada Hills and eventually to Walmart.”

The trail is the second path project on U.S. 6 city officials have approved in the last three months. In November, the Kendallville Board of Works and Public Safety hired DLZ to begin design work on a trail on the north side of U.S. 6 running from Fairview Boulevard west to the area of Fair Street, where it will also connect into sidewalks in a residential neighborhood. Design costs for that project were $22,050.

Construction of that trail would be paid for by Noble Trails Inc., since that section would tie into other efforts by the countywide group to establish a trail connecting Rome City to Kendallville.

In other business Wednesday, the redevelopment commission also approved a facade grant to help repair the front steps on the former post office building on Mitchell Street.

The building at 119 W. Mitchell St. is owned by N&S Realty and contains several offices for local organizations. The owner’s request was asking for a 50/50 matching grant to help with the cost of the repairs, which were more extensive than originally anticipated.

The lowest bid for the repair work, which will including removing the steps, stabilizing the ground and then replacing the stairs, hand rails and sidewalk, was $5,100. Commission members agreed 3-0 to provide $2,550 toward the project.

Derby also provided a brief update about continuing work on the Fairview Boulevard reconstruction project. Crews are wrapping up small punch-list fixes. The LED lighting has been installed and is now working and the city is waiting for a crew to hook up electric meters for the new pedestrian signals. Landscapers will also have to seed and plant in the spring before the project is officially closed out.