Indianapolis — State officials are waiting on an agreement between the city of Kokomo and Howard County before proceeding on a plan to extend the Nickel Plate Trail into Kokomo.
Local transportation planning officials received an update last week on the project, which will connect Kokomo with the 38-mile hiking/biking trail.
Both city and county officials are hoping work begins this year to bring the trail south from its current southern terminus in Cassville.
Howard County officials agreed to contribute $290,000 toward the local match for the project, and to pay the money to the city in two installments, one this year and the second in 2013.
But the formal agreement between the city and county has been on hold for the past two months, as attorneys for both government entities hash out details, according to Larry Ives, director of the Kokomo-Howard County Governmental Coordinating Council.
Kokomo city attorney Lawrence McCormack said Friday he thinks an agreement will be reached soon.
“I don’t think this is anything we can’t get around,” he said.
County attorney Larry Murrell said the city is seeking a written guarantee the Howard County Council will appropriate the second payment in 2013, but said there’s no legal way to bind the council to an appropriation.
“We’ve told them that the money will be paid, and that the council has every intention of paying it,” Murrell said.
Indiana Department of Transportation officials have signed off on an agreement to carry the trail over and under the new U.S. 31 bypass, the current bypass, and the soon-to-be-rerouted U.S. 35 northern junction
Ives said the plan will involve building a pedestrian/walking bridge over the current U.S. 31 and a lighted tunnel to carry the trail under the new U.S. 31. The trail would cross U.S. 35 at grade level.
He said tentative plans call for the state of Indiana to pay the cost of building the viaduct under the new U.S. 31, and for local funds to cover the remainder of the cost of the project, apart from $200,000 the state will pay toward the bridge over the existing U.S. 31.
The idea is to eventually connect the Nickel Plate to the Walk of Excellence and to the Industrial Trail, creating a network that will stretch from south of Lincoln Road north to Rochester.
• Scott Smith is a Kokomo Tribune staff writer. He may be reached at 765-454-8569 or via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org