BRISTOL – The Elkhart County Commissioners met on Monday, Dec. 18 to begin the process of moving forward with the Quaker Trace Trail addition along County Road 8 in Bristol.

The proposed multiuse path would stretch along County Road 8 for 2.7 miles, connecting an already existing trail that ends at Echo Drive, to the town of Bristol and passing a number of homes, farms, businesses and woodlands along the way. It would connect to the nearly 44 miles of pedestrian and biker trails that already exist within Elkhart County.

The path was chosen over three other options which were introduced in October. Despite the fact that the layout, known as “Option 2a,” received the most positive reaction from residents along the future trail, many have still expressed outrage regarding the plan.

“When they take down all [my privacy trees] the path is going to be right in my yard. We’re not rich, but this is still our home,” Dennis Kline, resident of County Road 8, said. “They give us the impression they really don’t care what we think; like we are in the way.”

Option 2a includes the 2.7-mile 10-foot wide pedestrian path along the north side of the road with curb and gutter. The path would reside within the county’s right-of-way save for the possibility of a few feet of property that may need to be purchased from about 25 residents.

“We’re looking at other ways to still decrease that in some places,” Elkhart County Commissioner Suzie Weirick explained, “The design is nowhere near complete.”

Residents in opposition to the current plan had hoped for the path to be located along State Road 120 rather than County Road 8. They believe the road to be safer, due to less winding and the potential for the path to fall further away from the road, with less impact on properties nearby.

“During the day when everybody’s working, there’s a lot of traffic here,” he said. “There’s 15 to 20 trucks leaving here [Bravo Trailers] every day,” Dennis Kline, resident of County Road 8, explained. “There’s 19 curves on this road,” Kline said. “The guidelines for a bicycle path, one of the no-no’s is having it on a curvy road. [...] This place is a race track.”

Residents have placed signs along the road addressing their concerns, hoping drivers will recognize and sympathize with their concerns.

“We’ve got semis and trailers coming through here,” Rhoda Bauer, another resident of County Road 8, said.

County Councilman Dave Foutz declared, however, that factories are not generally an issue for pedestrian pathways.

“If you look at the MapleHeart, it runs through industrial sights. You sign them, you put up fences, you differentiate what’s path and what’s property and they work fine,” Foutz said. “Even a path that’s as remote as the Pumpkinvine, it crosses through some factory sights. We are an urbanized area and whenever you have a path, you’re going to have it going through, by or near industrial sights and they are means of making them safe and aesthetically pleasing.”

Foutz added that the idea for the addition of the bike trail didn’t come from the commissioners, but from the fact that the Michiana Area Council of Governments has had County Road 8 listed as a bike path for, according to Foutz, probably 30 years, with signs up indicating it as such.

“We have discovered that while those signs are wonderful things, they’re relatively useless,” Foutz explained.

Commissioners and county council members have said that the path is to enhance connectivity throughout the county as they work to complete the pedestrian path circling the county.

“That path is so important here because it connects people and gives them recreational opportunities,” Foutz said. “We just thought this was something that would really be embraced by the community and I guess we were not entirely correct on that. We have these amazing geographical resources in Elkhart County. We have these farm fields, we have these rivers, we have these woods, and there’s people who live in cities and urban areas that would love to come and have those experiences so it’s really good for tourism but having said that, it’s really more important for the people to live here to have the opportunities to safely exercise, to get out and enjoy their neighbourhood and connect with the people around them and to me that’s the great good of the whole thing. To me, it’s so logical, that you end up being surprised at the pushback.”

“I think we need to kind of go a little slower right now and figure this {bike path} out before we move on to some others, but overall, research suggests that after paths go in, everybody is very supportive and very happy that they are there, despite their initial reactions to not having it in their backyard,” Weirick said. “I think these bike paths are a great addition to our community, something that will provide great connectivity, will help with the overall health and well being of our community, and really make us attractive to different individuals for recruiting, for moving to the area, for business. I think these are good options overall.”

(13) comments

FolgersDrinker

The ones that live in town do not pay the taxes that the homes on the river pay. If you want a river view it costs money! YOu won't find one on cr 8 anyway. The homes block the view. Go to Oxbow park and enjoy the woods, trails and river. A bike path will not attract people to move here. People live where there are jobs (we have them) health care and schools.(we are in dire need of them!) Ask any realtor they are selling the homes in Penn district and Middlebury schools like hotcakes but Elkhart schools are avoided. If we want to attract educated skilled workers we need to offer them a better school district and a lower crime rate. Businesses will come where there are workers. We better start saving instead of spending because the businesses are going to leave when they can't find workers, can not get across the river cause there are only two congested bridges, the roads and bridges won't carry the weight of the increased truck traffic and they watch local politicians use TIF money for their hospital friends to build a bike path that serves an elect few and an Olympic pool that will be used by Notre Dame(!!!???)

Voter96

Mr. Foutz.... this path will not just pass through factories parking lots like the straight way MapleHeart trail you compare it to, it will pass through a factory lots with over 500 employees on a 45 mph road with l7 curves , 2 blind. In fact if you are ever traveling our road note the warning sign next to United Trailer that warns of a BLIND CURVE. Furthermore 30 years ago this was a entirely different road! Today it is over 15% truck traffic, not to mention farm equipment that travels these curves, it was not paved, it was even moved! So what may have worked 30 years ago will not work in 2018. And I sure don't recall bike paths being in the works 30 years ago! Maybe this path you sat at a table and designed December 2016 unbeknownst to the residents of the county (COUNTY) at their expense was first thought of then? Its time you became accountable for the projects you sponsor not only fiscally but morally as this project will put children on a path that is "dangerous".

Dennypoo

I am so tired of Mr Foutz commenting on how great Quaker Trace bicycle path will be. He does not live on CR 8. The residents who live on CR 8 should be heard loud and clear. Many of us lived here decades. Why are our voices being silenced by the elite and few criticizing us. I’ll tell you why... it’s because we don’t really matter! Those people live in their ivory towers looking down on us. We are in the way of those cyclists who want the bicycle path on our road. It doesn’t matter if it destroys our front yards or takes our 100yr old tress. It doesn’t matter that we have lived here for decades! Please my fellow neighbors of CR 8 stay united! We do matter! Let our voices be heard! Please don’t weary. I know it’s tiring. We have to hold hands and stay strong! We are being heard!

Rod Harms

the bike path is a great thing and now we can ride our bikes safely and not have to worry about cars. The dump trucks have destroyed division street. They drive fast and are loud one after another every day. All day long. Let us all be happy we can enjoy Bristol as a town not just all semi trucks and dump trucks. Let the Quaker Trace Trail be something we can all enjoy

fire111

Aw heck yes Rod! Those dang dump trucks. I got an idea. Petition the county to stop those noisy speedy dirt trucks. Then you will really have more bike rider area. While we are at it, I'm still wondering how in the world people will be safe out there on Greenleaf Blvd , without a 10 foot wide path. I can't figure that one. Shucks!

FolgersDrinker

That would be nice Rod but the commissioner has proposed narrowing cr 8 to ll feet. Take a drive down the road. Note how the edge is breaking apart. Near Wade street two cyclists crashed back in October when their tires got caught in the broken pavement. This is caused by the wide load bearing farm and trucks that travel this road. Weirick promised she was putting the path here for safety but then she did nothing to make the road safer after installing signage to label it a bike path and bring more people to this road that she calls dangerous!

myVoice

"...Despite the fact that the layout, known as “Option 2a,” received the most positive reaction from residents along the future trail, many have still expressed outrage regarding the plan.." Ummm, I believe the most positive reaction from residents was received for the SR 120 option of wasted taxpayer $.
"...“If you look at the MapleHeart, it runs through industrial sights.."". Can't imagine a bike path being constructed through an industrial area for the sights, perhaps you meant sites?

strtdude

At the very least since this is eminent domain for recreation ( Wrong to begin with) They should sure get way past top dollar for their property. But no amounts of money disclosed yet. Report please.

FolgersDrinker

IT should be interesting to note that the commissioners admitted they have already paid a hefty price tag to Lochmueller for their concept designs! At their last meeting they stated it was well over $200,000 and that they would be asking for approval to spend more to get a finalized completed design from Lochmueller. This just for a little over two miles of road when they reported less costly locations. Why do they want it on cr 8 so badly? Ask yourself.

FlyNavy

They will build this bike path regardless of the opposition. I'll remember who was in office when elections come and will never use the path after it is built. It will have broken glass and debris on it anyway since these paths along roadways are NEVER maintained.

KathyW

Leave the property owners along CR 8 alone. This “bike path” you’re shoveling down their throats is going to be feet away from their front door. Susan is a liberal democrat, you should be repressing the public, not taking away their property. The owners don’t want this path in their front yards. Who would?

JeffersonQuotes

Bike paths are a good thing, unless you are a homeowner who is considered to be "In The Way." How many people would love having people walking & biking and gawking in your windows every day?

JH

Dennis Kline.. your right they don't care... it may be your home but the select few that will use the path may have more money... and I do believe the County Road 8 trail would be dangerous. But here again.. they don't care it is more scenic that SR 120 and so when someone gets hits and dies then they may pay attention. I don't imagine the homeowners on SR 120 want the path in their yards either

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