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Local recreational path raises concern for pedestrians

With warm weather approaching, many outdoor activities are underway. For bike riders one Muncie trail is raising some eyebrows.

MUNCIE, Ind. --- The Cardinal Greenway is the largest recreational trail in Indiana. The trail allows pedestrians to bike ride, walk, run, and enjoy the scenery through many parks and nature-filled areas. 

However, not all paths in Muncie are like this one. 

On the southwest end of Munice, a recreational trail runs alongside South Cowan Road. This trail allows the public access to an area of Muncie that is mainly roads and buildings. 

Ivy Tech Community College has a campus on that road as well as the administration buildings for Muncie Community Schools. The road provides a safe way of travel until it doesn’t anymore.

There is a railroad crossing right before the entrance of Ivy Tech and the recreational path stops abruptly. Until it starts again. On the other side of the tracks. The tracks cut straight through the paved trail and for 20 feet there is only gravel and tracks. 

For bike riders and other pedestrians, this is a big safety concern. 

Zane Bishop, the chair of the Muncie Bicycle-Pedestrian Advisory Committee, says areas like this can be a larger issue than it seems. 

“The tracks are metal and they get wet and become slippery,” Bishop said. “Even when there’s a small gap there, it can certainly cause accessibility issues.”

This missing paved section can cause issues for more than just bike riders. This unpaved and broken track can affect those who don’t have the same accessibility as others.

“It can cause big issues,” Bishop said. “We certainly don’t want part of a wheelchair getting stuck in the tracks”. 

While this trail causes large accessibility issues, other issues arise. The cost to fix these crossings is not only expensive but difficult to do. 

“When you’re talking about running some sidewalk across the tracks of the railroad, you know your bottom dollar is probably in the two to three hundred thousand dollar range,” said Adam Leach.

Leach is the City Engineer for the City of Muncie. And previously he worked for a railroad company. 

Although the city is in direct communication with railroad companies, there is not much work the city can do. This is because railroads are individually owned by themselves.

If the city wants to run a sidewalk through part of the tracks, they must get approval from the railroads themselves. According to Leach, this can be difficult. 

“The railroads aren’t super interested in any crossings,” Leach said. “That includes pedestrians, bicycles and even vehicular crossings.”

However, the city is aware of the obstruction. Leach says there is a running conversation with railroads to try to fix issues like the south Cowan track. 

As for Bishop, he still urges the community to get involved for issues like this to be solved. 

“There’s people that would bike and walk more if it was safer,” Bishop said. “People would bike and walk more if there were more and better transit connections.”

Contact Rebecca Rosado with comments and concerns at rrosado@bsu.edu