VIGO COUNTY, Ind. (WTWO/WAWV) — The Vigo County Commissioners are moving forward to approve the rights to an abandoned rail line known as the Riley Spur, which is a 6 mile long rail line that is no longer in use.
Tuesday evening commissioners presented a plan to the Vigo County Council. The Riley Spur will go from Canal Road to the east side of Riley connecting to Heritage Trail. Later officials hope it will be connected to Markle Mill Dam and to the new Parke County Trail into Rockville.
“We’ve tried to do our due diligence to make sure everyone’s happy. We’ll do our best to make sure the trail is safe and everyone is happy. If it’s a quality of life project, I’m in,” Commissioner, Chris Switzer, said.
The estimated cost of the project is over $1.3 million. $140,000 of that will go toward removal and disposal of the railroad ties.
Some rails have already been removed, but work will continue on other areas to ensure people can travel safely.
The property is being leased, not purchased. That means if the railroad were to be needed again, Vigo County could be fully compensated for what its spent.
Construction on the walking and biking trail could start Summer of 2023 and open Fall of 2023.
Vigo county Commissioner Brendan Kearns said this is a great opportunity to improve the trails.
“A lot of times that 3 foot rule isn’t observed. So, this new trail system could help improve safety and it will get people just out and about in areas where they like to walk, but right now can’t legally do so,” Kearns said.
For some community members the addition of a new trail would provide residents an area to safely exercise in Southern Vigo County.
Brad Chaney, with the Wabash Valley Road Runners Club said the project would also improve quality of life.
“It’d help bring new businesses and residents to our community. It’s not just our organization, the biking organization is also going to be out there. But, so it the families that live in the community,” He added.
Jerry Harnack, Owner of J’s Bikes, attended the council meeting and is in favor of the proposal.
“There’s not a lot of safe ways for people on the southside to access downtown. If people want to commute or run, it provides a great way to actually do that,” He stated.
The Vigo County Council is set to make the decision at the next meeting on Tuesday, April 12.