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Trail committee hard at work on bridge

By Lauren Zeugner – staff writer for Mail Journal

Syracuse-Wawasee Trail Committee has been hard at work this past fall raising matching funds for a K21 Foundation Grant for a bridge slated to go over McConnell/Skinner Ditch connecting the trail running along Pickwick Drive.

Preliminary plans and specifications for review took place Nov. 30 with final plans/specifications and bid document review set for March 15.  Bidding on the project is expected to open April 15, and, assuming the necessary permits are secured, construction will begin in early spring.

With a few days left before the end of the year, it’s not too late to make a charitable contribution to the project.  “A $10 check is as valuable to us as a $100 check,” said Spike Ford, chairman of the committee.  “If we have 100 or 150 contributors from the community … people in town, and residents around the high school, that’s good ammunition for us.  It’s critical with grant funders that the trail committee shows a buy-in from the community.

The new bridge will be an 8-foot wide timber bridge with 4-foot high timber side rails.  It will have treated timber pilings.  Ford explained from the west approach, the bridge will start from Pickwick Drive.  Privacy fencing will be installed in the area for the homes most directly affected by the trail and bridge approach.

Dusk to dawn security lights will also be installed at the bridge.  Wood fencing from the privacy fences will hook up to a new chain link fence at Parker Hannifin on one side and at a shorter fence to be installed in front of the recycle area on the other side of the trail.

Alan Tehan, who owns land adjacent to the trail route, has worked closely with the trail committee for about a year and is excited about the bridge installation.  The committee is also focused on working with the Town of Syracuse to have sidewalks installed in the Pickwick neighborhood, as well.

More progress has also appeared on the trail system.  Ford said if North Shore and East Shore drives are completed, there will be one large loop completed.  The committee just finished a section to Pleasant Grove near Wawasee Boat Company.  The project was delayed a bit while the county raised the road by about 2 feet to correct a drainage problem.  “Then and only then would they grant us a permit to go east to the Pleasant Grove intersection,” Ford said.

During the winter, committee members hope to meet with area neighbors, to keep them informed about the continuation of the trail to Wawasee Golf Course and the surrounding neighborhoods.  This will also allow the trail to connect with the original stretch put down by Peter Nicholas.

The area where East Shore, the railroad tracks and Mudd Lake meet was also paved, removing the danger the gravel posed to bike riders.  Ford said he’s heard lots of positive comments from people using the trail.