June 8, 2023 - Fort Wayne Parks and Recreation has been granted approval from the Department of Natural Resources to place Idle Speed buoys in a newly designated Idle Speed Zone of the St. Marys and St. Joseph Rivers to the confluence of the Maumee River. These buoys indicate that idle speed is the enforceable speed limit on the rivers within the zone. Idle Speed is the minimum speed at which a boat can operate and still maintain steering and not to exceed five miles per hour.

The Idle Speed Zone law goes into effect on Thursday, June 8. It begins at the Main Street bridge over the St. Marys River on the west side of the city of Fort Wayne and continues to the Columbia Avenue Bridge on the Maumee River (confluence) and the Tennessee Avenue Bridge on the St. Joseph River.

The changes follow a proposal that was submitted by the Fort Wayne Parks and Recreation Department to the Natural Resources Commission in the fall of 2020. This proposal included letters of support from the Board of Park Commissioners, Mayor Tom Henry, Allen County Commissioners, neighborhood and business associations and others who are connected to the quality of recreation in and around the downtown rivers.

Fort Wayne Parks and Recreation Director Steve McDaniel observes “it’s incredible to see the growth of recreation on the rivers in the past few years.” He continues, “the new Idle Speed Zone is a good step for regulating the variety of river traffic in downtown Fort Wayne.”

Deputy Directory of Recreation Chuck Reddinger agrees. “The main reason we proposed a reduced speed zone is for the safety of everyone who uses the rivers. The goal is to slow down vessels to maintain a safe speed.” He notes that “even outside of the new zone, it is still recommended that boaters drive cautiously to prevent accidents with other boaters or partially submerged debris.”   

Fort Wayne Parks and Recreation along with other City Departments will continue to educate boat operators about the new idle speed zone.