February 2014

INDOT Awards $1.9 Million Grant to Upgrade Vandalia Trail

In February, the Indiana Department of Transportation (INDOT) awarded Hendricks County Parks & Recreation a $1.9 million Transportation Alternatives Program grant to upgrade the 4.5 miles of Vandalia Trail from Amo west through Coatesville to the Putnam County line. Construction is planned to begin in 2016. This will include a 10' wide paved bike surface, an upgraded parallel equestrian trail, well-developed parking and trailhead facilities in the towns, and a number of other structural, drainage, and aesthetic improvements along the route.

There was significant competition around the state for these INDOT grant funds, but the strength of Hendricks County Parks' proposal, the support from the towns and the county, and this trail's connection with the Putnam County and Greencastle trails systems giving nearly 14 miles of continuous trail right away were key in obtaining the award. Being part of the cross-state National Road Heritage Trail initiative, labeled a 'priority visionary trail' in the Indiana State Trails, Greenways, and Bikeways Plan also helped win INDOT's attention. Hendricks County Parks Superintendent, William Roche, states "Statewide and nationwide, trails connecting communities have shown to provide tremendous benefits to their respective communities. The Hendricks County Park Board is proud to partner with the state, and the Towns of Amo and Coatesville, to develop this wonderful resource."

Many thanks to Hendricks County Parks & Recreation for their strong effort to bring this significant investment to the transportation and recreation infrastructure of the county. Many thanks also for the support from the towns and the county government, in general, as well as the years of trail PR around the county by the B&O Trail organization that made this accomplishment possible.

The current rustic version of the Vandalia Trail was attracting good recreational and some transportation use, especially with the recent opening of the bicycle and pedestrian connection west to Greencastle in Putnam County. However, this upgrade will make bicycle, pedestrian, and equestrian travel much easier and more dependable thus allowing and inspiring many more people to enjoy it for itself as well as to use it as a transportation route away from the hazards of motor vehicles.

In order to help the upgrade blend well with and compliment the development plans of the towns as well as with the existing trail layout and objectives, a formal advisory board is being formed to collaborate with Hendricks County Parks during this process and beyond. This board will include appointees by each of the town councils as well as representatives from the trail volunteer group, Friends of the Vandalia Trail, and other interested local residents.