An additional 1.5 miles of a downtown path project is on the horizon for the city of Sullivan.

That’s because the city will receive a Federal Highway Administration matching grant of $2.04 million, administered through the Indiana Department of Transportation, in 2024.

Construction for the new path project is slated to be bid in 2023, said Sullivan Mayor Clint Lamb. The funds require the city to provide a 20 percent match — just over $408,000.

“This will allow us to complete this trail system on Washington Street, starting at Main Street, then going east over the railroad tracks to Stewart Street, then north along Stewart to Leach Street,” Lamb said. “It will connect to East Side Park that was built by Flarherty & Collins, the same developers that invested $8 million with 40 housing units in the city of Sullivan, including 20 downtown apartments.”

“It will also connect to the Sullivan Housing Authority’s Sullivan Manor and to Park View Terrace,” Lamb said.

The city’s current downtown bike/walking path stops at Court and Jackson. Last year, the city was awarded $696,000 in federal funds to extend that to the west two blocks to the Sullivan County Library, a Carnegie library built in the late 1800s, then to “Lover’s Lane,” a sidewalk that cuts a block in half going north then east back to the city’s square.

Construction for that section of the project is slated to be bid in 2021, but Lamb said the city hopes that section can be bid in 2020.

INDOT informed city officials in early February of the new, $2 million federal grant.

The city’s pathway, Lamb said, borrows design aspects for several different areas. The colored path pattern is inspired by the city of Kokomo, planters from downtown Indianapolis and aluminum benches from Myrtle Beach, S.C., Lamb said.

However, after Broad Street, the new addition will have “new 6-foot sidewalks, then a brick buffer, then an 8-foot asphalt lane. So you will have street, curb, tree row, asphalt lane, buffer and sidwalk,” the mayor said.

Lamb said the city has a future vision to make the pathway total 5 miles.

The project, Lamb said, got its inspiration a couple of years ago when a member of the city’s redevelopment commission found a 1980 downtown study in their garage.

“That is probably the single most important document that has drove me,” Lamb said of the study done the year he was born. “If you look at this study, it talks about downtown banners, street lights, curbs, second story usage of buildings and re-purposing and use of things, because at that time the downtown was competing with Honey Creek Mall” in Terre Haute, the mayor said.

“Our communities today now compete online. We are not trying to recreate downtown Sullivan, but we need to recreate the activity that came. JCPenney, Sears and the Root store are not coming back downtown,” Lamb said.

“But with trails like this and quality of living, apartment living,” as well as work by organizations such Innovate Sullivan, a spin-off of Launch Terre Haute, as well as “other investment coming in the next few months, it gives people a reason to come downtown,” Lamb said.

The 1980 study was conducted by Ball State University. That university’s Indiana Communities Institute is now conducting a study as part of “Project Impact Main Street” to design and implement business investment strategies for Sullivan’s downtown.

Sullivan is one of nine Hoosier cities program selected for the pilot program through the Indiana Office of Community and Rural Affairs.The others are Seymour, Fairmount, Tell City, Tipton, Rockville, Dillsboro, Elwood and LaPorte.

Reporter Howard Greninger can be reached 812-231-4204 or howard.greninger@tribstar.com. Follow on Twitter@TribStarHoward.