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WHITE TOWNSHIP: Hoodlebug Trail extension to rec complex under consideration

by on May 29, 2014 11:00 AM

Indiana County officials, along with their counterparts at IUP, Indiana Borough and White Township, are proposing to extend the Hoodlebug Trail to the White Township Recreation Complex.

There is no proposed route as of yet, but the general plan is to extend the trail from its Rose Street terminus in White Township through the university’s campus and the borough to the recreation complex off East Pike.

The project is arising from an untapped federal transportation grant the county received roughly five years ago, according to Zachary Norwood, Indiana County’s senior planner.

Norwood said that grant, worth about $1.7 million, was to have been put toward intersection improvements around the Kovalchick Convention and Athletic Complex along Wayne Avenue. Officials thought the improvements would be needed to accommodate Kovalchick complex traffic.

However, after winning the grant and taking a required second look at the project’s necessity, they found it was no longer needed — improvements that were included as part of the facility’s construction already had solved the problems the project was meant to address.

So the money has sat untouched. And if the county doesn’t find a use for it before October 2016, it will lose those dollars, Norwood said.

Therefore it is proposing to extend the trail.

But officials are billing it not as the extension of a recreational bike path, but as the creation of a new transportation corridor, one that will allow people to move between the borough and township without a car.

It fits with IUP’s long-range plans to connect its main campus to its south campus through some sort of transportation spine. And the borough has been looking at ways to promote bicycling as a form of transportation.

But before the money can be tapped, officials have to win approval for the new project. And to do that, they will first have to create a plan, which entails hiring an engineer to set a route, among other things.

The preliminary design work is expected to cost $20,000, and officials are planning to split the tab evenly among the county, the borough, the township and the university.

The commissioners approved the county’s $5,000 contribution at a meeting Wednesday. Township supervisors did likewise at a meeting Wednesday evening.

Approvals from the borough and the university are expected to come sometime within the next few weeks.

Sam Kusic is a staff writer for The Indiana Gazette.
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