Gov. Eric Holcomb has announced $65 million to fund new pedestrian infrastructure in Indiana.
The grant money, distributed as part of Indiana’s NextLevel Trails initiative, will be used to create nearly 80 miles of new walking trails across the state.
Mark Becker, NextLevel Trails program manager for the Indiana Department of Natural Resources, which is administering the projects, said the trails will serve as an important outdoor recreation resource and a new piece of Indiana’s transportation infrastructure.
“Oftentimes, it’s an easy way to get to the store or get downtown, that sort of thing,” he said, “and a fun and safe way to do it, either on a bike or walking or jogging.”
The $65 million will be distributed as grants to 38 communities and nonprofit organizations. Becker said they’ll be tasked with handling construction on roughly three dozen trails. This is the third round of funding for the NextLevel Trails program; the state has allocated a total of $120 million to build almost 200 miles of trails across Indiana so far.
The grant program has a current maximum budget of $150 million, the largest infusion of cash into the state’s trails in Indiana history. Becker said the DNR defers mostly to local expertise on the projects.
“What we do is, we award a grant to a local community,” he said. “They’re able to hire a design firm that they’re comfortable with, and hire contractors that are familiar in their community.”
According to the program’s website, eight of the 73 approved NextLevel Trails projects have been completed so far. Grant recipients must meet a minimum 20% project match for their proposals, which can take the form of financial contributions, land value and materials and labor.