Chesterton Tribune

Dunes Kankakee Trail route through Porter and Chesterton not yet formalized

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A representative from the Northwestern Indiana Regional Planning Commission was supposed to update the Chesterton Town Council at its meeting Monday night on the status of the Dunes-Kankakee Trail, an ambitious project intended to link—when completed—Indiana Dunes State Park with the Kankakee River near Hebron, by means of a hike-and-bike trail.

The NIRPC rep, however, was unable in the end to make the meeting, but Town Engineer Mark O’Dell did tell the council what is known—or believed to this point—about the trail’s route through Duneland.

From Dunes State Park the trail will proceed south along Ind. 49. Then—under the route preferred by the Town of Porter—it will proceed west along a trail to be constructed parallel to and just north of Oakhill Road. At Waverly Road the trail will swing south to Woodlawn Ave., then east again along the north side of Woodlawn Ave.

Then, somewhere along the line, the trail will enter Chesterton, O’Dell said, but how exactly it will be routed through town is unknown. There are two chief possibilities right now: south from Woodlawn Ave. down Locust Street or otherwise down North Calumet Road. “We’d like to have a couple of options but technically there may be some things that aren’t possible,” as parking requirements may prevent feasible trail construction in parts of the Downtown.

Earlier in the meeting, one resident—who lives east of Ind. 49—did ask the council to think carefully before routing the trail anywhere near Indian Boundary Road. Bob Cohn said that he’s a big supporter of the Dunes-Kankakee Trail but has concerns about the availability of sufficient right-of-way to make any trail construction safe for bikers and pedestrians.

In any case, the town has been awarded a $50,000 grant—to be matched in $50,000 in CEDIT funds—from the Lake Michigan Coastal Project, the purpose of which is to conduct a route analysis. Consultant SEH has been retailed for that work, O’Dell said.

Member Jim Ton, R-1st, did repeat an observation he made earlier this summer about the trail’s route through town. It’s imperative, he said, that Chesterton reps are at the table when the final decision is made. “We don’t want to be handed a fait accompli. We want options.”

“It’s an amazing project,” Porter County Tourism Director Lorelei Weimer said from the floor. “The big thing is always to find the funding for it.”


Posted 9/13/2011