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