PERU – The Nickel Plate Trail is set to be extended more than 2 miles through Peru after the city was awarded a $200,000 grant from the Indiana Department of Natural Resources.
The paved section of the trail currently ends on the north side of U.S. 24 at Lover’s Lane. People then have to walk or ride just over 3 miles on city streets to again connect up with the paved trail near the Wabash River on the city’s west side.
The trail is now set to be extended from Lover’s Lane across U.S. 24 to Ninth Street near the Schneider Electric Square D factory.
That section of trail will also include a spur that will connect the trail to the new athletic complex built by Peru Community Schools located between U.S. 24 and Roxy Lane.
The south end of the trail will be extended along the Wabash River and connect up to the existing Riverwalk trail, which runs into downtown Peru.
The new section of trail will also be incorporated into the city’s River View Landing improvement project, which officials announced in December and includes the construction of a new $12.4-million YMCA along the Wabash.
“We are very excited that the new Y will be more accessible to walkers and cyclists,” said Miami County YMCA Director Mark Demchak. “ … Bike trails like the Nickel Plate have a unique effect on communities. They connect neighborhoods in ways that allow folks who may not otherwise meet to interact with each other.”
Once the trail extensions are complete, the ends of the paved sections of the Nickel Plate in Peru will drop from over 3 miles to just under a mile.
The extension is made possible after the city in April received the $200,000 grant through the DNR’s Recreational Trails Program.
Ashley Lowe, the grant administrator and assistant to Peru Mayor Gabe Greer, said the money is the final piece of funding the city needed to complete what will end up being a more than $500,000 undertaking.
Additional funding for the trail extension comes from a $265,000 grant through the DNR’s President Benjamin Harrison Conservation Trust Fund, which the city has held onto since winning the money years ago. The city will also contribute $50,000.
Lowe said a good portion of that money will pay for land acquisition, which is the next big step for the project. She said most of the land is owned by the Norfolk Southern railroad. The trail extension will be built over the existing railroad infrastructure.
Mike Kuepper, president of the Nickel Plate Trail organization who helped write the DNR grants, said extensive environmental testing will also have to be completed before construction on the trail can begin. He said the earliest the project might get started is late fall.
The extension project in Peru comes on the heels of another major development that will provide seamless access on the trail, which runs more than 40 miles from Kokomo to Rochester.
In March, crews installed a new $2 million pedestrian bridge over Indiana 931, wrapping up one of the last and biggest steps to connect the Nickel Plate Trail to downtown Kokomo. The bridge is projected to be open for public use by the end of the month.
Kuepper said it’s exciting to see Peru win a huge chunk of grant money that will further allow paved and car-free access to the Nickel Plate Trail.
“This is another big step we’ve been looking to complete,” he said. “I’m just thrilled with the cooperation between the trail and the city.”