In the next three to five years, most areas of Seymour will have some connection to a vast network of bicycle lanes and multipurpose pedestrian trails if all goes according to plan.
City officials recently met with Alejandro Galvan, manager of Muscatatuck National Wildlife Refuge, to talk about a proposal to extend the city’s trails system to the refuge.
“He was very receptive to the idea,” said Seymour Parks Director Bob Tabeling.
Another meeting and tour of the refuge was scheduled for Friday morning but was postponed to May 19 due to the weather.
The proposed trail would allow people to walk, jog, run or ride their bicycles along U.S. 50 from near Applebee’s on East Tipton Street all the way out to U.S. 31, where it would go south and lead to the west side of the refuge.
“That’s a nice, long stretch,” Tabeling said.
At the traffic light at Sandy Creek Drive and Tipton Street, the trail would go along the center median that divides eastbound and westbound traffic in order to keep pedestrians clear of vehicles getting on or off Interstate 65.
The Indiana Department of Transportation is planning to repave U.S. 50 from Agrico Lane to U.S. 31 in 2019.
City engineer Nathan Frey said the city has an agreement with INDOT to add an 8-foot-wide trail on the north side of the highway as part of that project.
Frey said he plans to request use of INDOT’s right-of-way along U.S. 31 to continue the trail across East County Road 500 North just south of U.S. 50 into the refuge. It would be 2 miles long.
“We felt this was just another puzzle piece that is falling into place for our trails network,” Frey said.
U.S. 31 was a better route instead of continuing the trail along U.S. 50 to the refuge’s main entrance because of safety issues, Tabeling said. There have been multiple fatal wrecks along that stretch of U.S. 50 from U.S. 31 to the refuge.
Although the project is still a couple of years out, another project to add a sidewalk and marked bicycle lanes along East Fourth Street from O’Brien Street to Burkart Boulevard should begin in July.
That work is estimated to cost around $200,000 and should be wrapped up by the fall.
The city also is investigating how to turn the Von Fange Ditch into a walking trail, and trails are included in the plans for the south extension of Burkart Boulevard.
“There’s a lot of things with the trails that we’re going to be talking about, but this is just another addition to get bikes and get walkers out, and Muscatatuck is an exciting piece of that,” Tabeling said. “Everything takes time, but this is all part of a vision to get people through the city and around the city and connecting the dots.”