Trail Usage Up, Growth Continues

Residents continue to flock to our trails in record numbers. Year-end totals for 2016 show a record 568,138 trail users – a 17.5 percent increase that smashes the previous record set in 2012 of 483,581, by nearly 85,000 users.

Growth in the trail network has not only made it easier for residents to access trails in their neighborhood, but to safely connect to the entire community.

Since 2008 the City’s trail mileage has grown from 33 to 73. Add that to trail connections outside of the City limits and we see a Fort Wayne area trails network of more than 96 miles.

This year will bring more good news for trail users, with new connections and additional miles to navigate that will reach a milestone of more than 100 miles of trails in the network by September.

“A commitment to trail development assists us in our efforts to make Fort Wayne and northeast Indiana a point of destination for residents and businesses,” said Mayor Tom Henry. “I’m encouraged by the growth and excitement we’re experiencing with our trail system. We’re a leader in providing quality of life amenities that are critical to the current and future success of our City and region.”

“I’m glad that our pedestrian network continues to grow. Connecting neighborhoods and improving the City’s walkability for residents is an important part of our transportation system. In the past 10 years pedestrian infrastructure has grown by nearly 80 miles with more than 40 miles of trails and 38 miles of sidewalks being added to enhance our community,” said Bob Kennedy, Director of the City of Fort Wayne Public Works Division.

Trail growth planned for 2017 includes:

· Illinois Road Trail and Sidewalk Project, Phase 1: Lagro Drive to Magnavox Way

· Hanna Street: Burns Boulevard to U.S. 27

· Six Mile Creek Trail, Phase 1

· Hanna Street: Pontiac Street to Rudisill Boulevard

· Bluffton Road Trail from Lower Huntington Road to West Foster Park

· Pufferbelly Trail from Wallen Road to Washington Center Road

· Pufferbelly Trail from State Boulevard to West Fourth Street

· Pemberton Levee Trail

· Southtown Centre Trail, Phase 2

· Summit Park Trail and Sidewalk Project, Phase 1

· Maysville/Trier/Landin Roundabout with trail

· St. Joe Center Road Trail from Meijer Drive to Chiswell Run and Wheelock Road Trail from St. Joe Center Road to Mill Ridge Run (completion in 2018)

· Pufferbelly Trail: State Boulevard to Fernhill Avenue and Franke Park (completion in 2018)

When added to smaller extensions that will take place outside the City limits, the Fort Wayne area trails network is expected to increase by nearly 11 miles in 2017 – bringing the total to 106 miles. More than 100,000 residents will live within a half-mile of a trail by the end of 2017.

“Investing in our trails is about providing safe and functional public spaces that are connecting neighborhoods, strengthening neighborhoods and building community. For those of us that use the trails often, it’s easy to see usage is up. Our trails offer safe connectivity for recreation, exercise and active transportation,” said Dawn Ritchie, Manager of the City of Fort Wayne Greenways and Trails Department.

"The next few years in trail development are going to be exciting for Fort Wayne, New Haven, Allen County and other communities. Great planning and support from our elected officials and donors are helping our community develop trails at a record pace," said Kent Castleman, executive director of Fort Wayne Trails Inc. “Trail users are finding new and inventive ways to interact on the trails.”

In 2016 new trail connections were completed on McKinnie Avenue, Covington Road, Liberty Mills Road, Renaissance Pointe, Dupont Road, Diebold Road and a portion of the Pufferbelly Trail

About the City of Fort Wayne Greenways and Trails

The City of Fort Wayne’s Greenways began as part of the Parks and Recreation Division. From 1975 to 2005, the Parks Division built the 20-mile Rivergreenway. In 2005, as interest grew and more residents began using the trails, the current City Greenways and Trails Department moved to the Public Works Division, a fitting move as the community’s view of trails shifted from recreation to active transportation.

The move helped the City increase its trail miles from the 20 Rivergreenway miles to more than 73 miles today. The City’s trails connect to New Haven and other parts of Allen County, creating a Fort Wayne Area Trails network of 96 miles.

Dawn Ritchie is the Manager of the City’s Greenways and Trails Department.