Surrounded by community members and representatives from the Northeast Indiana Regional Development Authority, Mayor Tom Henry on Thursday officially opened a 1.5-mile section of the State Visionary Trail along Bluffton Road.
The trail runs along Bluffton Road between Lower Huntington Road and West Foster Park. It connects 3,817 residents to more than 170 businesses within a half-mile radius of the trail.
“Investing in trails is critical to neighborhood and regional development,” Henry said in a statement. “We continue to demonstrate a commitment to enhancing quality of life amenities that make our community more attractive for businesses, economic development opportunities and individuals and families. We're fortunate to have a growing and thriving trails system that's having a positive impact on Fort Wayne and northeast Indiana.”
The trail section opened Thursday is part of the Poka-Bache Connector, an 81-mile trail that connects Ouabache State Park in Bluffton to Pokagon State Park in Angola. It runs through Wells, Allen, DeKalb and Steuben counties.
The trail along Bluffton Road cost $1,044,380, with $610,000 coming from the Regional Development Authority.
“Through the Regional Cities Initiative, northeast Indiana is investing in its long-term future through targeted projects to enhance culture, connectivity and livability for Hoosiers,” said Elaine Bedel, president of the Indiana Economic Development Corp. “Expanding the Poka-Bache State Visionary Trail and the Fort Wayne Area Trail Network will support the region's efforts to retain and attract top talent, advancing northeast Indiana on its road to 1 million residents.”
Andrew Briggs, board chair for the Northeast Indiana Regional Development Authority, agreed.
“We know that growing Fort Wayne and northeast Indiana requires that we intentionally plan for the needs and wants of both current and future residents,” Briggs said. “Study after study has linked happiness, rising property values and active lifestyle to the proximity of trails.”