News From Terre Haute, Indiana

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June 30, 2014

Purity test

Crew scours for toxins at future scenic rec site along river

TERRE HAUTE — A new scenic trail could be just months away along the Wabash River.

Environmental testing was underway Monday and again today on the east bank of the river on a defunct north-south road near the edge of the waterway. City officials hope to turn the former road south of Fairbanks Park into a new hiking and biking trail later this year.

Employees with Professional Service Industries Inc., an Indianapolis-based consultancy, were taking soil and groundwater samples along the future trail all day Monday looking for contaminants, said Pat Martin, city planner.

Depending on the results of those tests, workers could break ground on the new trail this fall, he said.

The most likely contaminants at the sight would be materials such as lead, mercury and arsenic, Martin said. They are also testing for traces of pesticides, he said.

The cost of the testing will be between $26,000 and $31,000, Martin said.

The new trail is part of the city’s promise made in 2013 – “The Year of the River” – to reclaim the waterway for recreational uses, Martin said.

“That’s exactly what we’re doing,” he said. “It’s part of our on-going commitment to recover the river.”

A big storm Monday delayed the testing a few hours. A repeat of that weather could push completion of the testing until Wednesday. Otherwise, it should wrap up today, Martin said.

City officials announced plans for the new trail in 2012. The Terre Haute area boasts more than 30 miles of recreational hiking and biking trails.

It’s not yet known how much construction of the trail will cost, Martin said. That will depend partly on the results of this week’s testing, he said.

The trail will run from Fairbanks Park to property formerly owned by International Paper and now owned by the City of Terre Haute, a distance of about one mile. The trail will be made of crushed limestone, which is suitable for recreational uses, including bicycling.

Next year, the city hopes to extend the trail around a pond on the former International Paper property, Martin added.

Plans call for leaving the trail made of crush stone for three to five years, Martin said. After that, the city plans to dig up the trail and lay a combined-sewer-overflow drainage pipe in the ground under the trail. Once that is completed, plans call for paving the trail with asphalt, Martin said.

Reporter Arthur Foulkes can be reached at 812-231-4232 or arthur.foulkes@tribstar.com.

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