Students' work to help connect Muncie

Bike Trail to cost about $1.5 million to build

Ball State University and Muncie community members are working on a bike trail that will lead through the city's historical and culturally significant areas.

Graduate urban planning major Jennifer Gerdom began working with other Ball State students on the trail last summer. She said the group began meeting at the end of the Spring Semester.

"Over the summer, I and other members went around and just looked at the roads physically and we continued that after the semester started," Gerdom said. "We physically went out and measured certain roadways and walked the trail and biked the trail to see if it was sufficient."

William Morgan, officer of historic preservation, said the trail will go through the Ball State campus, Minnetrista, downtown Muncie and Heekin Park.

He said the group has not decided specifically what streets the trail will got through.

This year, Muncie has applied for the Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery grant program, Gerdom said. The TIGER grant is a part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, which supports cities in transportation and port infrastructure projects, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation Web site. The DOT has until Feb. 17 to announce projects that will receive the grant.

While Muncie does not yet have the total cost of construction calculated, Morgan said the city has applied for a $6.5 million grant. $5 million would be designated for upgrades on the city's railroads and $1.5 million on the bike trail. The city is also planning on applying for a Preserve America grant, Morgan said.

Gerdom said the project is underway because of Muncie's recent nomination as an arts and culture district.

The Arts and Culture District program was created in 2008 as a way to identify and designate communities in which high concentrations of cultural assets exist and serve as anchors, according to the Indiana Arts Commission Web site.

Gerdom said the group is now marking the trail and the next step will be getting signs and bike racks placed along the trail.

The group has also been trying to raise awareness, Gerdom said. The group did a presentation during the Living Lightly fair at Minnetrista, and has been present at community meetings.

Gerdom said she thinks there should be a stronger connection between downtown Muncie and Ball State.

"Part of the idea is the direct linkage," she said. "A guided trail between Ball State and downtown."

Gerdom said she wants to put into practice what she has learned on urban planning and to restore historical parts of the city.

"I want there to be a chain reaction," she said. "Where if there is a trail going though certain areas and one person sees this happening and they really want to fix up their building to make it more presentable, hopefully their neighbor will too."


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