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Federal grant to begin work on the Mishawaka-Elkhart trail

The community’s long-held desire to connect pedestrian trails in St. Joseph and Elkhart counties is receiving new impetus from the Biden administration’s infrastructure initiative.

Former South Bend Mayor and current U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg announced earlier this week that Biden’s $108 billion bipartisan infrastructure bill includes more than $800,000 to begin planning a trail connecting the Mishawaka and Elkhart riverfronts.

The new trail will bridge an 11-mile gap between the two trails. The project will also explore electric vehicle charging stations and bike share stations at trailheads.

The new trail must run from Merrifield Park in Mishawaka to Capital Avenue and then from Capital to downtown Elkhart.

The funding is received by the local authority MACOG (Michiana Area Council of Governments), which is responsible for coordinating regional transportation planning.

“Both trail systems are a huge asset to our community right now, but closing this 11-mile gap could be a huge game changer,” said James Turnwald, executive director of MACOG. “Back in 2016, when we as a region created our first active transportation plan, there was a great desire in our communities and the public to connect these two trail systems.”

The process will include public hearings to be scheduled. Turnwald encourages anyone interested in following the project and providing input to follow MACOG on social media and keep an eye on crosswaytrails.com.

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