Walk/Roll/Stroll from Rosedale to Rockville, Indiana
About Next Level Trails (NLT) Grants The origins of the Next Level Program Grants come from Governor Holcomb’s administration. Governor Holcomb and the Indiana Legislature increased the Commercial tolls on Indiana Toll Road in northern Indiana resulting in $1B of additional revenue for the state to fund infrastructure projects throughout the state.
The Governor directed $90M toward developing local and regional hiking, biking, and walking trails in Indiana. This 90M dollar would only be spent on recreational trails focusing on areas in Indiana that typically did not receive state funding for large infrastructure projects due to the smaller populations.
The Next Level Trails program established two levels of funding for trails, Regionally Significant and Locally Significant, with limits for these projects set at $5M and $2M, respectively. Additionally, the Next Level Program Grant is an 80/20 grant; recipients must be able to match at least 20% of the grant. Recipients also have a strict four-year schedule to complete their projects.
Our Story In 2021, Mark Davis received a life-changing call that announced a significant win for Parke County. After several tiresome months of long hours, the Parke Trail Alliance (PTA) had been awarded the Regionally specific NLT Grant worth five million dollars. The Parke Trails Alliance applied for the grant as an opportunity to add to the outdoor recreational opportunities vital to Parke County tourism. PTA and the Parke Community Rail Trail (PCRT) is one of two recipients of the $90M NLT program to receive the full amount and is the only non-profit organization. The PCRT project has the most bridges and second most miles of all the recreational trail projects awarded the NLT grant.
The Parke Community Rail Trail (PCRT) Project By no means is the Parke Community Rail Trail a new project. It consists of designing and constructing about 10 miles of trail connecting the Depot Trailhead in Rockville with the existing 0.6-mile paved trail in Rosedale, then continuing south to the Parke / Vigo County Line. Once completed, the trail will connect the rural towns of Rockville, Catlin, Jessup, and Rosedale in Parke County. The project includes eight (8) bridges, several culverts, two new trailheads, and a 1-mile natural surface shared use (hike, bike, equestrian) trail.
The trail will be built upon 9.7 miles of property owned by Parke Trails Alliance. Within the trail network, we will be utilizing 1-2 miles of low-traffic county roads for connectivity between points on the RR corridor, which we cannot access at this time.
Two trailheads exist, the Depot Trailhead in Rockville and the Rosedale Trailhead. The project includes constructing two new trailheads near Catlin and Jessup. The trailheads will include parking, restroom facilities, informational kiosks, benches, and bike racks. The project is planned to be completed by mid-2025. This timeline includes design and engineering, land acquisition, and construction.
The Phases of PCRT The grant was awarded in March of 2021, with the first funds being received in August. There are four years to complete the $6.5M project. The first two years have been spent acquiring property, planning, surveying, trail design, preliminary bridge design, and beginning construction on Phase 1. The PCRT construction plan consists of five (5) phases: Phase 1 – Parke/Vigo County Line (Lambert Av) to existing Rosedale Trail and then north to Big Raccoon Creek. Completion expected late spring 2023. Phase 2 – Jessup to Pipeline Road. Completion is expected in fall 2023. Phase 3 – Catlin to County Road 275S. Completion summer 2024. Phase 4 – 200S to Depot Trailhead. Completion anticipated fall of 2024. Phase 5 – Big Raccoon Creek to Jessup. Completion is expected in spring 2025.
Booming Economics The PTA sees this as an outstanding opportunity for Parke County and surrounding areas. Tourism is the #2 industry in Parke County, behind Agri-Business. Two State Parks, a State Recreation Area, Covered Bridges, and creeks for kayaking and canoeing are perfect for adding a recreational trail and taking advantage of these state funds to help the local economy and communities. The Parke County, Rail Trail project has an immediate five million dollar impact on the community through land acquisition, local contractors, and businesses.
An overall view of the budget of over six and a half million dollars shows that $200,000 will be spent on land, $50,000 on design, and $4.5M on construction. To date, over $360,00 has already been invested locally, and $325,000 has been invested outside Parke County. To put this into perspective, the 2023 approved budgets for towns within Parke County. Rosedale- $231,088 Rockville- $1,273,700 Montezuma- $496,252 Mecca- $24,650 Marshall- $93,900 Bloomingdale- $126,040 Parke County has a total budget of $15,424,132 for 2023. Source: https://www.in.gov/dlgf/files/2023-reports/Parke-230109-2023-County-Budget-Order
Safety The Parke Trails Alliance (PTA) management philosophy is to provide a safe trail network that respects our local residents, landowners, and culture. We will provide sufficient signage providing information regarding safety, location, historical points of interest, educational information regarding the environment, Leave No Trace, respecting others’ property, and trail rules. From a management standpoint, we view safety as our top priority. While putting the project and grant application together, we met with emergency response authorities to discuss what we would need to do to ensure trail access to them in case of emergencies. With their input, we understand some of the primary components necessary for a safety plan, with the appropriate information and means of access that will allow them the best opportunity to do their job should the need arise.
We will continue discussions and will be working with them to create a plan and provide information to the Parke County Emergency Management Office, Parke County Sheriff’s Department, Rockville and Rosedale Police Departments, and the Rockville and Rosedale Fire Departments regarding trail access, signage, and information to assist them in providing their services if a need should arise. We will also provide emergency contact information at each trailhead for those using the trail. We are also looking into possibly closing sections of the trail during deer hunting Firearm and Muzzleloader seasons. Hunting is a vital part of our local culture, and it is essential to consider ways to accommodate this if we can. Should this be necessary, we will have gates and signage indicating the closure due to the hunting season and letting trail users know that, out of respect for our neighbors and fellow hunters, it is not safe or permitted to use the trail during this time. Understand that this would not include the sections of the trail near a roadway or waterway, as it is illegal to shoot over, across, or into either of these areas.
The trail will be open and available to use by the public during daylight hours. Should we become aware of the activity on the trail outside of daylight hours, we will take the necessary steps to address this. We are ready to utilize additional gates, patrols, and or trail cams to help determine who may be violating these rules.