April 20, 2022 - The City of Fort Wayne will receive a $2,685,278 Next Levels Trails grant from the State of Indiana to finish the last 1.78 miles of the Pufferbelly Trail.
The new section of the Pufferbelly Trail will complete a major gap in the existing trail between Washington Center Road and the Lima Road/Ice Way Intersection. To the south, the existing Pufferbelly Trail connects to the 26-mile Rivergreenway, Lawton Park, Franke Park, the Fort Wayne Children’s Zoo, Headwaters Park and Downtown. With the completion of this last segment of the Pufferbelly Trail, 115 miles of existing trails in the Fort Wayne Area Trails Network will be connected.
The final segment of the Pufferbelly Trail will tie directly or indirectly (via sidewalks) to hundreds of businesses and many residential areas along the Washington Center Road corridor, the Lima Road Corridor, the Coliseum Boulevard corridor and the Coldwater Road/Clinton Street Corridor.
The Pufferbelly Trail is also part of the regional Poka-Bache Connector trail, an 85.2-mile State Visionary Trail connecting Pokagon State Park in Angola with Ouabache State Park in Bluffton.
The Next Levels Trails grant required a minimum 20 percent project match, which could include monetary contributions, land value, and in-kind donations of materials and labor.
The City of Fort Wayne is providing $1,896,551 to the project. Five property owners donated easements valued at $43,851. And there are seventeen financial partners secured by Fort Wayne Trails, Inc.
Trail construction is expected to take place in 2023.
Next Level Trails 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 current biennial budget to bring the Next Level Trails investment to $150 million.
The Fort Wayne Area Trails Network consists of nearly 129 miles of trails, with 97.4 miles inside City limits. Most of the trails in City limits are planned, designed, constructed and maintained by the City of Fort Wayne, under the leadership of Mayor Tom Henry.