Chesterton Tribune

Dunes Kankakee Trail consensus: Run it through Downtown Chesterton

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By KEVIN NEVERS

What route through the Town of Chesterton should the Dunes-Kankakee Trail take on its way from Indiana Dunes State Park to the Kankakee River near Hebron?

At a visioning workshop Thursday night, the 25 or so folks in attendance reached something like a consensus, first on the benefits which they would like the D-K Trail to confer on Chesterton, and second on the most likely routes.

Gregg Calpino of SEH of Indiana—the town’s contracted trail consultant, funded through a 50/50 grant awarded to Chesterton by the Lake Michigan Coastal Program—opened the session with a brief synopsis of the possible routes, as Chesterton extends the D-K from its southern terminus in Porter in the area of Waverly Road and Woodlawn Ave.:

•East on Woodlawn to Ind. 49 and south.

•West to 15th Street, then south to the eastern terminus of the Prairie-Duneland Trail, west to 23rd Street, north to 1100N, and east.

•From 1100N the D-K could plunge south along 11th Street and Meridian Road. Or it could connect to South Calumet Road and thence Ind. 49. Or it could jog south to 100E and then east along Rail Road to Coffee Creek Center.

•Or from 15th Street the D-K could go east along Broadway and into the Downtown.

•From the Downtown it could follow Coffee Creek ultimately as far as the Coffee Creek Watershed Preserve.

•Or it could take a right and go south along South Calumet Road into the South Calumet District.

•Or, finally, the D-K could take a southerly route along Fifth Street to 1100N.

Or, Calpino said, the ultimate route could be some hybrid of the seven basic possibilities.

Each of the alternatives has its pluses and minuses, Calpino said. Ind. 49 is a “direct spine” with ample right-of-way but it wouldn’t provide a very scenic experience, what with the high volume of high-speed traffic.

The Broadway route into the Downtown would expose the business district to the dollars of out-of-towners but there’s a lot of parking, the street is very narrow, and there isn’t much right-of-way.

The Coffee Creek corridor would be very scenic but expensive to construct and probably to maintain against the threat of flooding.

Fifth Street is nice and quiet, Calpino suggested, but bypasses the Downtown and is a little “one-note.”

Input

The basic question posed by Calpino—do folks want trail users simply to pass through Chesterton or to enjoy the town, its amenities, and in particular its businesses—folks appeared to answer with an eye on economic benefits: it would be nice if the trail exposed users to the Downtown. Or as one man put it, a route through the Downtown is “very critical.”

But a Downtown route begs more questions really than it answers. How to get it to the Downtown and how to get it out.

Town Council Member Jim Ton, R-1st, seemed amenable almost to any route but two: Ind. 49 and Meridian Road. The former’s “not in character” with a bike/hike trail, the latter would bypass the Downtown entirely.

Town Council Member Emerson DeLaney, R-5th, has this idea: run the D-K along the abandoned railroad right-of-way south of the Norfolk Southern line, from 15th Street east to the Downtown, at which point the trail could pass behind the South Calumet Road business block along Lois Lane and then into and through Coffee Creek Park. Or from the park up Indiana Ave. and then south along South Calumet Road.

Gina Darnell, representing the Northwest Indiana Paddlers Association, suggested the construction of a spur which would open wetlands behind the Jewel/Osco on Indian Boundary Road.

Burns Harbor resident Brad Enslen altogether rejected the Fifth Street route as just too “boring.”

Westchester Township resident Sarah Pavlovic wondered whether the D-K would be a dedicated route or one sharing the roadway with vehicles. Calpino said that “it would depend on the corridor” but that, ideally, it would be a dedicated, “separate facility.”

Timeline

SEH will continue data-gathering through February, Calpino said, and sometime around Easter will return with a short list of three or so possible routes. After a second input session, SEH will complete a draft master plan for the Chesterton stretch of the route, including cost estimates.

 

 

 

 

Posted 2/10/2012