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Vigo County officials this afternoon announced a more than $8.7 million project to build a walkway from West Terre Haute to Terre Haute.

Updated, 6 p.m., full story:

Vigo County and state officials Friday announced a partnership to build an $8.7 million, 1.17-mile concrete walkway along U.S. 150, connecting Terre Haute to West Terre Haute.

"This is way beyond what we could imagine. We are so excited about it," said Commissioner Judy Anderson, president of the Vigo County Board of Commissioners.

"It is a project where there has been many, many entities within the county that have tried and tried this," she said of pushing for a walkway along U.S. 150.

The multi-use path will be constructed of prefabricated, precast concrete boardwalks on a steel frame, resting on concrete pilings on the south side of U.S. 150 (formerly U.S.40) behind an existing guardrail. It will be 11-feet, 3-inches wide, with 10 feet of clear space for walking/biking.

"This was done as concrete, while more costly up front, it has a longer lifespan, about 50 years," said Shane Spears, Crawfordsville dstrict deputy commissioner for the Indiana Department of Transportation.

Design and engineering on the path, could start in June and iwill take just under a year to complete, with a contract letting likely in early January, 2020, said Ron Hinsenkamp, executive director of West Central Indiana Economic Development District.

Construction of the trail could then start in April or May, 2020, Hinsenkamp said, with construction completed in late October or November, 2020.

"The pathway will be relinquished to Vigo county after construction for on-going operation and maintenance," Hiskenkamp said.

Hinsenkamp said the project became feasible as U.S. 150 is part of the designated U.S Bicycle Route 50, which allows INDOT to use its federal congestion mitigation and air quality funds to cover 80 percent of the cost.

"It was kind of a solution that came to us out of the blue," Spears said. "We were in a meeting and one of our central office partners at INDOT said that maybe this was something can be done with CMAQ funds, so (the development district) ran the technical details to see if it would improve air quality by having a walkway, so that is what got it qualified through us and INDOT."

Federal and state funds cover more than $7.09 million of the project, while Vigo County will cover 20 percent, or more than $1.74 million.

However, before the project occurs, the Vigo County Council must appropriate funds for the project.

While it has not yet been brought before the Vigo County Council, Councilman Bill Thomas said that using county Economic Development Income Tax money is a likely funding source for the county's match.

"I see folks walking and biking across there and am always hoping and praying no one gets run over," Thomas said. "This is a dream come true."

Aaron Loudermilk, president of the Vigo County Council, added that the project has long been sought by county officials.

"I think it is very important for the people in the west side of county to have this (project)," Loudermilk said. "It is a very dangerous journey across there on foot. I have seen mothers pushing children in strollers before, which is quite dangerous. It is a big deal for our community," Loudermilk said.

The effort, Vigo County officials said, included Sen. Jon Ford, R-Terre Haute.

"As part of this group, I took their concerns to INDOT and the governor's office to really push this idea and got positive support all along. INDOT supported the project and was encouraged to be creative. When I do town halls in West Terre Haute, I hear more than anything people wanted a solution," Ford said of the walkway.

The need for the walkway project include to improve air quality; reduce bike or pedestrian accidents; provide better access to the Wabashiki Fish & Wildlife Area; and improve connectivity between West Terre Haute and Terre Haute.

The walkway announcement was a major step for Riverscape of Terre Haute's vision of the Wabashiki Fish & Wildlife area, said Riverscape president Charlie Williams.

"Not only does this provide for a safe way for daily walkers and cyclists between Terre Haute and West Terre Haute, it provides the missing link on a 7-mile trail network along the river levee and West Terre Haute levee for recreational purposes, greatly improving our community's quality of place. This project has been Riverscape's top advocacy priority for the last five years," Williams said.

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

 

Original story:

Vigo County officials this afternoon announced a more than $8.7 million project to build a walkway from West Terre Haute to Terre Haute.

The Indiana Department of Transportation will put $7.09 million toward the project, while Vigo County will commit $1.74 million.

The 1.17 mile structure will be made of concrete.

Design is expected to take about a year, and construction could begin in spring 2020.

This story will be updated.

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