McCORDSVILLE — A new pedestrian bridge in McCordsville will help connect local neighborhoods and could lead to increased economic development to the area, officials say.
Schulz pedestrian bridge, which will stretch 55 feet across Schulz Ditch, a drainage path that runs through town, will be built by September, town officials say. The bridge will run parallel to County Road 600W, just north of County Road 800N.
The bridge will connect with the town’s existing multi-use path to the north, which stretches more than 2 miles and connects to other pathways in Hamilton County.
Construction of the bridge is the first phase of a three-part plan to make County Road 600W — one of the area’s most traveled thoroughfares — more walkable for residents in surrounding neighborhoods.
The Indiana Department of Transportation is overseeing the project and will cover most of the $325,000 cost, but town officials committed about $77,000 of its capital improvement funds, said Ryan Crum, McCordsville building and planning director.
Construction is slated to begin this spring, but plans haven’t been finalized, so the work could be delayed until summer, Crum said.
After the bridge is completed, town officials will set their sights on a southern extension of the trail that will continue along County Road 600W and will eventually cross State Road 67, which spans four lanes and sees more daily traffic than any other road in the area.
In 2018, town officials plan to add a crosswalk at State Road 67 with a countdown timer for pedestrians, Crum said.
With construction on a new Meijer store underway and a new wellness center that opened in February, the hope is that residents from nearby neighborhoods will be able to access those facilities via local paths, said town council member Barry Wood.
In recent years, local officials have heard a call from residents who want to see more pathways reserved exclusively for walkers, runners and bikers, Wood said.
And based on population projections, that demand will likely increase in the future, said town manager Tonya Galbraith.
U.S. census data from 2010 lists McCordsville’s population at about 4,800 residents, and town officials estimate the area has gained more than 2,000 residents in recent years.
Based on population growth patterns, town officials anticipate the area’s population will reach 11,500 by 2020 as development continues to spread into the area from Marion and Hamilton counties.
Establishing pathways that link neighborhoods together also makes for a more cohesive community, Galbraith said, by establishing a central location for residents to walk and bike.
Skip Kuker, director of the Hancock Economic Development Council, said “walkability” has become a buzzword in his industry; increasingly, prospective companies are looking for communities that offer extensive trail networks that encourage workers to stay active, he said.