For too long, the many who walk or bike along Bluffton Road have been in danger of becoming injured in an auto accident on the high-traffic thruway. But come this spring, Waynedale will begin its transition to a safer and better connected pedestrian travel than ever before.
As part of an expansion of local sidewalks, the City of Fort Wayne will begin construction on two separate phases of a new Bluffton Road sidewalk. The new concrete pathway will offer improved connectivity between Winchester Road and Lower Huntington Road on its west side.
The entire project will come in two phases. Phase One will be to connect existing sidewalks from Waynewood Drive to just south of Old Trail Road. Then, Phase Two will lead from Old Trail Road to about 800 feet south of Winchester Road, near Foster Park West.
Both sidewalk phases are scheduled to be completed by July of 2017, and will add about 1.1 miles to the city’s whole sidewalk network.
The idea to help support the City and Fort Wayne Trails was born in 2012 at a local meeting of CANI, the Community Action Network Initiative. Camille Garrison and several others who attended the meeting split off into a trails and sidewalk group, and began discussing the great need for improvements in Waynedale. The result was the Waynedale Sidewalks and Trails Initiative.
Since then, Garrison and her team have rallied the community around the cause, holding numerous fundraisers and helping to get the project off the ground. Profits from Kingston’s Taste of Waynedale events have gone into the trails coffers, as well as fund-raising lunches at the local Pizza Hut and Chick-Fil-A, plus events at Bobick’s Golf, The Stand, a Spa Day at Hair Affair and Trunk or Treats.
Since that genesis, more than $28,000 has been raised for the cause, Garrison said.
Garrison states the goal is more than just having better places to walk, jog, and bike. “With these improvements as well as the recent new ramp near Lower Huntington Road,” she said, “you will be able to go from Foster Park to get an ice cream cone at Dairy Queen or continue into downtown Waynedale to grab a bite at many restaurants there. It’s a project that really improves the quality of life and promotes healthy living for all ages by offering safe options for people to walk, jog or bike as a family or with friends,” Garrison said. “People tend to gather together over food. Socializing while on the trails is a great alternative that is free and supports a healthier lifestyle.”
“An added advantage,” Garrison said, “is providing our local businesses along that stretch with the potential for increased walk-in business. Overall, this will have a truly positive impact for our community.”
For the City of Fort Wayne it is also a win; in an effort to improve the quality of life for local walkers and bicycle riders.
“It’s really important,” said Frank Suarez, Public Information Director for the City of Fort Wayne, “to improve connectivity and to better safety for pedestrians and bicyclists.”
In addition to the sidewalks; trails along Bluffton Road are also planned for construction on its east side.
And the trails won’t just help walkers and riders within Waynedale. The pathways will be connected to a swath of trails more than 80 miles long that eventually will give more than 100,000 people access to it.
The trails will be part of the Poka-Bache State Visionary Trail that will connect Pokagon State Park in Angola to Oubache State Park in Bluffton.
No date has been set for construction on the trails, but the City of Fort Wayne has stated that it will be bid and planned for sometime in 2017.