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  • Chuck and Marilyn Bash walk with their puppy, Daisy, on the recently paved Rivergreenway through the Plex North on their way to celebrate the 100th mile of paved trails in the county Monday. (Cathie Rowand | The Journal Gazette)

  • Cathie Rowand | The Journal Gazette A crowd gathers on the Rivergreenway at mile No. 100 on Monday morning. By the end of 2018, officials plan to have 110 miles of trails.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017 1:00 am

100 miles and counting

Trail milestone reached

150 gather on Rivergreenway to celebrate achievement

ROSA SALTER RODRIGUEZ | The Journal Gazette

On a stretch of freshly laid asphalt just north of Coliseum Boulevard East and with many attendees arriving by bicycle, Fort Wayne dedicated its 100th mile of trail Monday morning.

Dignitaries from Fort Wayne, Allen County, New Haven, the northeast Indiana region and the state joined representatives from the nonprofit Fort Wayne Trails to underscore how far local trail building has come since the beginnings of the idea in the early 1970s  – and to promise more trails in upcoming years.

“One hundred miles. Wow, that's a long way,” Republican County Commissioner Nelson Peters said during the ceremony. “From the south end of Fort Wayne to the northern edges of Indianapolis, that's about a hundred miles.”

Corinna Ladd, PNC Bank's regional president for northern Indiana, summed up the accomplishment another way.

With the additional mileage expected to be completed in the next few months, “You could run four full marathons without seeing the same scenery twice,” she said.

About 150 people were on hand for the ribbon cutting, with supporters so numerous three ribbons were cut before the gathering adjourned.

Karl Bandemer, Fort Wayne deputy mayor, said the trails have become a spur for development and a selling point for the community's quality of life. He recalled speaking to Lynn Reecer, a Realtor and early trail enthusiast, about extending trails years ago.

“I'm here to admit that I thought it was, well, I won't say crazy, but I thought it was a big challenge to take on,” he said. 

Dawn Ritchie, Fort Wayne's greenways manager, said the 101st mile of trail already has been completed. It runs from Vesey Park to connect with part of the Pufferbelly Trail from West State Boulevard to Fernhill Avenue with a spur to the Fort Wayne Children's Zoo, she said.

By the end of 2018, about 110 miles will be in place, she added, and with the completion of the 100th mile, part of the Rivergreenway, more than 167,000 people now live within a half-mile of a trail.

The completion of the 100th mile just northeast of The Plex North athletics complex, makes it possible to use the trail to go from downtown to Shoaff Park, users said.

Kent Castleman, executive director for Fort Wayne Trails, said upcoming projects are expected for the Huntertown, Leo-Cedarville and Grabill areas.  He said the organization has started a fundraising campaign to celebrate the 100th mile achievement by raising $100,000 by the end of the year. Just under $50,000 has been raised so far.

More information is at www.fwtrails.org/100-mile-campaign.

About 570,000 users rode, walked or ran the trails last year, a record, and one that is likely to be broken this year, officials said.

rsalter@jg.net