Extra $265,000 raised for Riverside trail; Jackson intersection might change – The Star Press

Extra $265,000 raised for Riverside trail; Jackson intersection might change  The Star Press

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MUNCIE, Ind. — Delaware Advancement Corp. and the city of Muncie have announced that an extra $265,000 will be spent on the Riverside Trail to help address concerns raised by opponents.

The state earlier earmarked $640,000 for the trail, which will run more for more than a mile between the Morrison Road/Jackson Street Roundabout and Christy Woods at Ball State University.

Officials also are reporting that one lane of Riverside might be eliminated at its troublesome, diagonal intersection with Jackson.

Much of the extra funding is being earmarked for drainage improvements. But some is budgeted for a sidewalk to connect the Catalina Swim Club to the Riverside Trail on Clarkdale Avenue, and $25,000 has been set aside by the Ball Brothers Foundation to replace trees that are being removed along Riverside.

The team working on the project says it has effectively addressed concerns raised by neighbors, including intrusion of the trail across yards and driveways, poor drainage along Riverside, the removal of existing shade trees, and traffic safety and bad pavement on Riverside.

“I couldn’t be more pleased that the team … has been able to secure additional funding … that will enhance the safety of pedestrians living in the neighborhoods that will use the trail,” Mayor Dan Ridenour said in a press release. “The notion that youth and families can get to the Catalina Club without being in the street is important. Residents expressed concerns about standing water along Riverside Avenue. Additional funds found to address the water issues is a direct outcome of the neighborhood input at the public meetings.”

The city will consider repaving Riverside and putting Jackson and Riverside on a road diet that would eliminate one lane of traffic on Riverside at that intersection.

The trail has been designed to cross Riverside from the south to the north side of the street, just east of Jackson. The crossing will be at the entrance to the Pineview housing subdivision, providing connectivity for pedestrians living there.

The Muncie Sanitary District has committed $100,000 for the trail for storm water infrastructure improvements to help relieve standing water along Riverside.

The Regional Development Authority has pledged an additional $140,000 from a grant it received from the Indiana Economic Development Corporation for the drainage work and the construction of the sidewalk to Catalina.

Keith Sweger, president of the Kenmore Neighborhood Association, told The Star Press that lack of drainage along Riverside has, for many years, been a problem that he is pleased to see being addressed.

“I am also pleased that funding has been found for the replacement of trees that will be removed for the trail project,” he said in an email. “I understand that homeowners will be part of the process in the selection and placement of these trees.

“I am concerned that the proposed road diet being planned for the area near the Jackson Street/Riverside Avenue intersection will increase traffic in the neighborhoods adjacent to the trail. As the project proceeds, I urge those involved in the planning and execution of the trail plan to continue to respond to the questions and concerns of the homeowners who are directly affected by the project.”

The distance between the proposed trail and houses reportedly averages 45 feet, though one home is only 25 feet away. The majority of homes are two car lengths from the trail.

At a public hearing, trail proponents emphasized safety for walkers, runners, bicyclists, strollers, dog walkers and others who now must use the street due to lack of sidewalks or a trail.

The project team has listed oak, maple, sycamore and possibly elm trees to replace those being cut down, but there are plans to poll neighborhood associations for input on tree selection. 

During meetings, the public expressed concerns about traffic calming, lighting, tree replacement, water issues, trail width, edge of pavement separation and a connection to Catalina, consultant Phil Tevis told The Star Press.

Street lighting has not been addressed. Paving of Riverside has not been addressed but is in discussion. 

“The city is hoping to pave the road next year depending on the paving budget/appropriations in 2021,” Tevis went on. “Riverside would be paved after the trail is built. The city is also exploring reconstruction of the Jackson/Riverside intersection using a Community Crossings grant.  If the intersection is reconstructed, it will resolve congestion issues … “

City-county plan commission director Marta Moody and other officials have cited studies, master plans and action plans going back two decades that documented “long and widespread” public support for trails in Muncie, including connectivity between trails and the lack of trails/parks/green space in the area of West Riverside.

The trail primarily is being funded through Next Level Trail grant from the Indiana Department of Natural Resources. 

The Next Muncie collaborative has provided resources to facilitate the positive outcomes of the Riverside Trail, the news release said.

RELATED: Column: Next Muncie initiatives help advance city’s development, quality of life

“Members of the Next Muncie group have expressed the need city-wide to make quality of place improvements in respect to education, green space, housing and cultural events throughout Muncie. Quality of place is critical in retaining and attracting residents and employees for Muncie and the East Central Indiana region,” the release said.

“The Riverside/Jackson trail brings pedestrian connectivity to and from predominately single-family owner-occupied neighborhoods immediately adjacent to Muncie’s two largest employers, Ball State University and IU (Health) Ball Memorial Hospital.”

Contact Seth Slabaugh at 765-213-5834 or seths@muncie.gannett.com

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