Statement issued Friday by the city of Fort Wayne:
Fort Wayne, IN – Mayor Tom Henry’s commitment to improving and expanding the trail network in Fort Wayne and northeast Indiana has been recognized by the Indiana Department of Transportation (INDOT) and Federal Highway Administration (FHWA). The Pufferbelly Trail in north central Fort Wayne has been named one of the Indiana Partnership for Transportation Quality’s Award Winning Projects.
“This project is one more step toward the goal of connecting Pokagon State Park in Angola with the City of Fort Wayne,” said Mayor Tom Henry. “This award from the state recognizes our long term planning efforts as well as the partnerships that helped make this trail segment from Till Road to Salomon Farm Park in Fort Wayne a reality.”
The City worked closely with Northwest Allen Trails, a local trail advocacy group, to identify the former New York Central Railroad corridor as an ideal route for the Pufferbelly Trail. The project faced a number of challenges including an accelerated design schedule, the need to minimize the footprint of the project and the need to avoid some environmentally sensitive areas. This trail segment was built using funds from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA). Because of cost conscious design efforts, the project was constructed for 5.4% less than the original bid amount.
The 13 miles of the Pufferbelly Trail will run from Lawton Park downtown, through Franke Park and on to Northwest Fort Wayne crossing, Coliseum Boulevard, Washington Center Road, Carroll Road and finally up to the North Allen County Line.
“This project represents just the first piece of what will eventually be a forty-seven mile long trail and it should generate a lot of interest and energy for future trail development on the north side of Fort Wayne. It’s part of the State of Indiana’s visionary trail. South of Lawton park a trail will go through Waynedale and eventually connect with Ouabache Sate Park in Bluffton. The full length of the State trail will be approximately 80 miles,” said Fort Wayne Greenways Manager Dawn Ritchie.
Fort Wayne’s Pufferbelly Trail uses the right-of-way of the Fort Wayne to Jackson, Michigan to Saginaw, Michigan Railroad. The rail line began in 1868 and later became part of the New York Central system in 1880. The railroad operated as the Penn Central in the 1970’s and ceased operation in 1976.