MERRILLVILLE — A new U.S. Bicycle Route proposed for the state will guide bicyclists from Northwest Indiana to Indianapolis.

U.S Bicycle Route 37 is in the works and could have Indiana Department of Transportation approval by the spring.

“This route is planned to start in Griffith at the Erie Lackawanna Trail, head into Crown Point, then proceed south through Lafayette and terminate in Indianapolis,” said Mitch Barloga, the active transportation manager at the Northwestern Indiana Regional Planning Commission.

Barloga said the Adventure Cycling Association has been championing the U.S. Bicycle Route System (USBRS).

The system includes a national network of preferred routes that use signed roads and trails to direct bicyclists through a city, county or state.

There are two U.S. Bicycle Routes that go through northern Indiana. They are USBR 35, which travels south from Michigan to Louisville, and USBR 36, which uses several different trails to connect Illinois to Michigan.

Barloga said he has been involved in the development of USBR37 for about a year. Local communities in which the route travels have been supportive of the endeavor, he said.

The Merrillville Town Council was the latest to give its authorization to be included in the route.

Merrillville Parks Director Jan Orlich said USBR 37 will follow the Erie Lackawanna Trail in Merrillville.

“The route will be mapped and endorsed and throughout the entire state, designating that route,” Orlich said. “So it could possibly bring people here.”

She said bicycling is growing in popularity, and the town can experience several benefits from participating the USBRS program.

“It allows those transporting by bicycles to stop in our shops, eat at our diners,” Orlich said.

Barloga said the letters of support from Merrillville and other communities involved in USBR 37 will be sent to INDOT. He anticipates the state department could authorize the route by the spring.

Barloga said NIRPC will provide USBR 37 signage to communities to post along route.

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