Governor Eric J. Holcomb and Indiana Department of Natural Resources Director Dan Bortner announced 14 communities will receive a combined $31.2 million for 28 miles of new trail as a part of the fourth round of the Next Level Trails program.
Roberts Park Trail
Grant Amount: $2,000,000
Total Project Cost: $3,392,587
Adds 2.6 miles of concrete shared-use path that will connect Roberts Park, Wesselman Woods Nature Preserve, and the State Hospital Park. To the west, the new trail will connect to Evansville’s Walnut Street Trail, which provides access to the University of Evansville, downtown Evansville, the Ohio River, and the city’s existing trail network.
“Across the state, trails are making connections – bringing people and communities together in ways we’ve never seen before,” said Gov. Holcomb. “The Next Level Trails program has elevated those connections with record trail funding and palpable energy. Through $180 million across four rounds, we’re funding important infrastructure that is making an impact now and will continue to be felt for generations to come.”
A $180 million grant program, Next Level Trails (NLT) is the largest infusion of trails funding in state history. In rounds one, two, and three, a total of $120 million was awarded to 73 communities to build 190 miles of trails throughout Indiana. In January, an additional $29.5 million was awarded to acquire and begin development of the 62.3-mile Monon South Trail.
In the fourth round, grant projects all across the state were awarded. Examples are two new segments of the Marquette Greenway in northwest Indiana and extensions to the Poka-Bache Trail in Steuben County. Smaller local projects in Evansville, Oldenburg, Yorktown, and Santa Claus also were funded.
“Through Next Level Trails and its $180 million in grants, Indiana continues making history,” said Dan Bortner, DNR director. “Never before in our state have so many Hoosiers come together with the shared mission of connecting communities. Over the last five years, that shared mission, historic funding, and Gov. Holcomb’s steadfast commitment have created a tangible impact in the form of nearly 100 miles of new trail open in all corners of our state and more soon to come.”
The award announcement was made in LaCrosse. The LaPorte County town was awarded a fourth-round grant of $2.1 million to build the Grand Kankakee Marsh Trail, a 3.1-mile trail that is part of the Great American Rail-Trail, which is a planned route from Washington, D.C. to Washington state organized by the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy (RTC). Approximately 56% of the Great American’s 214 planned miles across Indiana are complete.
“We are thrilled to see continued investment in the Great American Rail-Trail in Indiana,” said Ken Bryan, senior strategist for external relations, RTC. “Governor Holcomb’s $180 million Next Level Trails program continues to serve as a model for other states, showing the country how to make it a priority to invest in trail and active transportation connections between and within communities.”
In January 2022, RTC named Gov. Holcomb as a Doppelt Family Rail-Trail Champion for his leadership in accelerating trail development across the state.
The grants awarded in the fourth round include seven regional projects and seven local projects. The list of awards, project descriptions and a map are posted HERE.
The fourth-round grant recipients are contributing $15.5 million in matching value, resulting in a $46.7 million total investment in trails. The program requires a minimum 20% project match, which can include monetary contributions, land value, and in-kind donations of materials and labor.
NLT is part of Gov. Holcomb’s $1 billion Next Level Connections infrastructure program, which accelerates the completion of major highway projects, expands access to rural broadband services, and pursues the expansion of rail projects in northwest Indiana. The initial program received funds totaling $90 million; $60 million more was appropriated in the 2021 biennial budget. An additional $30 million in the most recent budget brought the NLT investment to $180 million.
Including the newest projects in the fourth round, NLT has awarded grants to 89 different projects across the state. Of the now 89 projects, 32 are complete, adding more than 97 miles of new trail for Hoosiers to access.