South Adams Trails working out bumps in the road

Authored by Jim Langham on May 18, 2012

Roger Kottlowski, project engineer for the South Adams Trails project, told those attending the organization's annual meeting on Thursday that he believes that discussion is being productive with residents along the projected trail who have had concerns about its passage close to their property.
Kottlowski said that there had been discussion with Amish north of the Wabash River. Officials described to them fencing and landscaping designed to break the perception that strangers were passing in their backyard. He noted that signage of instruction would also be a central issue along the way.
"I listened to tapes of the public hearing that was held a few months ago and comments from the community," said Kottlowski. "There were many positive comments but there were also some concerns. We met with some of the Amish families last night and things went pretty well."
Another phase that could slow beginning construction somewhat is that of land acquisition, Kottlowski told those present. As a result, he projected that ground breaking will probably take place in mid-winter, 2013 and begin next spring. Kottlowski said that the cost of the project will be elevated some because of a large amount of wooden railing that will be utilized between the river and Berne.
Kottlowski said that officials learned in April that the Indiana Department of Transportation (INDOT) had a brief opening to apply for grant money. As a result, county commissioners sanctioned applying for an additional $300,000 in grant money from transportation enhancement funds to assist with the project.
Bonnie Money, engineer for the covered bridge, reported that the historical structure is well on its way to being reconstructed. Money said that one of the most exciting of things that happened in dismantling the bridge was discovery of board match marks from the original construction. She noted that construction workers are doing the same thing as they re-assemble the bridge in case a future generation might want to do repairs on the bridge.
Money noted that trusses were reset on May 8. Steps currently in operation include bracing floor beams in the lower level, installing upper level bracing, the roof, and then finally painting the structure at completion.
In 2014, $717,000 will be available through INDOT to reconstruct the Bunge Bridge that had been donated by the City of Decatur to the trails project. In order to save money in bridge reconstruction, said engineer Alan Hamersly, officials may refrain from painting the bridge until further funding is available.
"Painting may not get done until there is additional funding available," said Hamersly. "Most of these old iron structures are pretty sturdy, even if they aren't painted. That might be an area where we can save some money initially and still get the bridge up."
Officers elected for the next year include Gary Habegger, president; Randy Lehman, vice president; Gregg Sprunger, treasurer; and Pam Krause, secretary.
Mike Kuepper, president of the Nickel Plate Trail in the Peru area served as guest speaker, told those present that his area constructed a 38-mile trail based on rail land available in Howard, Miami and Fulton counties in north central Indiana.
Kuepper said that initially, at a meeting in Peru High School in December of 1999, eight individuals favored the project and over 200 attended that were opposed to it. Slowly, said Kuepper, people started to understand and get on board for the project. Finally, when the first leg of the trail was completed, many of those who were initially opposed began to utilize the trail and support it.
"Once it opened it was amazing how many people came out," Kuepper said. "People drove in from other counties just to use the trails. One of the commissioners who had been opposed said to me, 'everywhere I go people are talking about the trail.' That first piece is your selling point.
"Be creative how you look around and utilize things that give harmony to your trail," Kuepper said. "Listen to your consultants. It's amazing how much funding is coming into the communities along the trail now. The number of people that we are bringing to their businesses, we're making them happy."

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