Indiana Michigan River Valley trail is finally completed after 11 years
NILES TOWNSHIP, Ind. - The final mile of the Indiana Michigan River Valley Trail of the 17-mile stretch from Mishawaka to Niles is completed and the trail is officially open.
The 17-mile stretch is 11 years in the making and the purpose was not only to get folks out in nature but to connect several communities together.
It has been in the works for over a decade however the idea started earlier when Roseland traded rails for trails but the idea never took off until 2008.
“By that time there was about 3 miles of trail in south bend, the one mile in Roseland and a couple miles in south bend and there were 3 or 4 trails in the works. When we looked at all the trails we said, ‘you know if we connect these we can have a continuous trail from Mishawaka to Niles so that’s what we did,” Harry Thibeault who was one of many who were in the planning stages of the project said.
Now anyone from commuters, students, families and tourists can take to the trails for some good old fashioned fun.
From Mishawaka to Roseland to South Bend to Niles, four downtowns connected by one trail with a goal to bring communities together.
“We wanted to connect our communities. It says something about what this area is about. We’re about recreation. We’re about transportation, alternative means of transportation. Instead of driving you can hop on your bike. It’s about knowing our neighbors,” Thibeault said.
“It’s exercise and get a lot of steps in,” Steve Koszyk who was walking the trail Saturday said.
Koszyk moved to the area because of the trails.
“When we moved to granger in 91 what brought me there was sidewalks. Everybody was together and this is the next best thing,” he said. “Having a sidewalk, you can’t have them on rural streets. It brings the community together; people are friendly and you can just tell they love it.”
But it wasn’t cheap.
“This phase one was just over $1 million, phase 2 was very similar probably $1 million,” Thibeault said.
And that’s only in Niles Township’s section of the trail.
“It was pretty expensive,” he said.
But they raised money, received grants and money from local foundations, helping the trail come to live. And the next step?
“There are plans on taking it to Berrien Springs, there are plans on taking it to the Pumpkin Vine Trail over in Goshen, Granger Pass. So eventually we will all be connected. Communities all connected together by trails,” he said.
They are hoping to keep extending this trail to different parts of Michiana and connecting more people in the future.