Mayor Graham Richard today led a groundbreaking ceremony to mark the beginning of construction on the Wabash & Erie Canal Towpath Trail. The trail is the next step in the community'€™s efforts to expand the Rivergreenway network.

The project is divided into four phases. Phase III will be the first phase to be completed. The limits are between Smith Road and just east of Woodhill Drive. Places of destination along this phase are Canterbury High School and The Dome.

Once the entire project is finished, the nearly seven mile trail will connect Aboite Township with the Fort Wayne and New Haven Rivergreenway system. The trail will begin in Rockhill Park and extend from Engle Road to West Jefferson Boulevard. The trail will follow the old Wabash & Erie Canal towpath, which was the dirt path along the canal used by mules to tow boats.

“Greenways and trails make Fort Wayne a great place for recreation and enhances the quality of life in our community,” said Mayor Richard. “High trust, high performance partnerships have made this project a reality. Our community is committed to creating a regional greenway network that will attract families, jobs and businesses to Fort Wayne.”

Public-private partnerships assisted with the development of the project. Parkview Hospital'€™s Community Health Improvement Program donated $150,000 for the greenway expansion work. The Dome, Ralph and Peggy Herndon and Canterbury High School donated easements for the project. Right of way and land were acquired through a grant from the English, Bonter, Mitchell Foundation with assistance from Aboite New Trails and the Greenway Consortium. The Little River Wetlands Project also donated right of way and land. Charles Bash with Swift & Finlayson provided legal services pro bono. Additional partners included the Canal Society of Indiana.

The total cost of the project is estimated at $2.5 million. The entire project is expected to be complete in 2008. Greenway users will have 25 miles of continuous trails stretching from New Haven to County Line Road in Aboite Township.