CUMBERLAND — After nearly two years of construction, the town of Cumberland is celebrating the completion of the Buck Creek Trail, a walking and biking path that brings together many of the town’s residential subdivisions.
Now, neighborhoods across the town are connected, and town leaders are thrilled to see project come to fruition, said Cumberland Town Council President Anna Pea.
Plans for the $3.3 million project were on the books for nearly a decade, but pushed back as the town focused on other projects. Construction began in 2017.
Cumberland town officials mapped out the three-mile path and acquired the land needed to build the trail, which connects to the Pennsy Trail just east of Carroll Road on the south side of U.S. 40.
It follows Buck Creek to Buck Creek Road, ending just short of Interstate 70 and runs through several subdivisions, including Cumberland Heights, Glen Oaks Village, Cumberland Falls, Buck Creek Meadows and Lions Park.
The project was funded with help from a federal grant. The grant covered 80 percent of the project cost, and the town of Cumberland footed an estimated $660,000.
The Cumberland Town Council held an official ribbon-cutting ceremony near the end of the summer to celebrate the project; but there were still several spots along the path that needed touching up, said Christine Owens, Cumberland’s assistant town manager. Those final projects should be completed this week, she said.
Avid cyclists won’t need to put their bike in the car and lug it to the Pennsy Trail anymore. Now, they can pedal right out of their garage, through their neighborhood and around town with no need to fuss with the stress of crossing a busy street, she said.
Residents have been receptive to the addition to their neighborhoods, Pea added.
“Somebody even came in and hugged somebody on the town staff because of it,” Pea said with a chuckle.
Walkability has been a hot topic locally in recent years.
Cities and towns across Hancock County have worked independently to build trails, with recent examples including efforts to connect the Pennsy Trail from Greenfield to Cumberland and to connect a path in McCordsville to the Geist Reservoir. The Hancock County Community Foundation last year furthered these efforts, giving county leaders $25,000 in grant funding to study ways to connect the county’s various walking paths into a safe, countywide trail system.
As empty-nesters sell their homes, younger families coming to Cumberland are searching to move in. And having the ability to step out the door and walk or bike anywhere in town without stepping onto a busy street is attractive to new homeowners, Owen said.
“We’re really finding that it’s creating a sense of community,” Owens said. “Neighbors are out seeing each other. Kids are riding their bikes to Meijer. That they’re able to do that now is amazing.”