A greenway is a continuous ribbon of trails, side paths and sidewalks providing connectivity to amenities such as parks, historic sites, local attractions, food and beverage services, river access, and nearby communities. In the case of the Wabash River Greenway, the trail corridor is largely being planned within the 100-year floodplain of the Wabash River.
A planning project evaluates relevant past documentation and current project scope, solicits community input and produces trail routing maps, plans and graphics within a defined study area. Guidelines for design standards and implementation will be recommended, and potential funding sources will be identified in the final report.
The 18-month planning process for this project began in May 2020.
The primary study area consists of the Wabash River corridor through five counties: Cass, Carroll, Tippecanoe, Warren, and Fountain, for which detailed planning documents will be prepared. The secondary study area will include Resource Amenity Corridors connecting to the Wabash River Greenway within these additional five counties: Benton, White, Pulaski, Clinton, and Montgomery. The Wabash River Greenway combined with the Resource Amenity Corridors will ultimately provide greenway connectivity throughout the entire 10-county Wabash Heartland Innovation Network.
The Master Plan effort will create a vision document for greenway routing through the Wabash River corridor. Major elements of the plan will include greenway branding, design standards, trail heads and trail connections to river cities and towns. Resource Amenity Corridors will also be identified for potential corridor connections to the Wabash River Greenway within the outer counties of the Wabash Heartland Innovation Network. Further, the Wabash River corridor within the rural sections of Tippecanoe county will be studied to a schematic level of design to build upon concept planning initiated in 2010.
Public engagement, participation and documented input will be conducted via multiple means, including a project-based website, online survey, county by county local library information stations, virtual presentations, social media posts, and print media.
A phasing plan for the Wabash River Greenway with an opinion of probable cost for each segment will be prepared for budgeting purposes. Promotional videos will be produced to build community support and enthusiasm for the greenway. These videos will be included in a promotional toolkit to be used by stakeholders to communicate information about the project during the planning process and implementation.
This comprehensive project will address river corridor issues and identify greenway development opportunities by utilizing the Wabash River Greenway construction as the catalyst. Issues to be considered with applicable recommendations to address include physical inventory, flood issues, safety and security, feasibility, environmental constraints, river crossings, emergency access, and maintenance requirements. The Master Plan will develop design considerations, trail amenities, wayfinding, branding, historic destinations, new recreational and private development opportunities, places of interest, and economic development opportunities.
Existing codes, comprehensive plans, planning documents, as well as previous public outreach and planning efforts for each county were reviewed prior to beginning conceptual design.
An overall goal of the Wabash River Greenway is to connect users with the history and culture of the corridor and immediate region. Local historians, county representatives, and steering committee members have provided guidance, reference materials, and historic sites of significance within each of the five primary counties.
Comparable trail case studies are a research effort by the planning team to analyze the economic impact of trails and improved greenway corridors similar to the Wabash River Greenway plan. The Corridor Master Plan has selected three trail case studies that have similarities to the Wabash River Greenway corridor, such as length, location along a river, or regionality. The case studies will be used to determine anticipated levels of economic impacts and return on investment for proposed improvements. The master plan will reference comparable case study outcomes to project the potential economic impacts of the Wabash River Greenway for the surrounding region.
The use of both face-to-face and virtual meetings will be explored contingent upon the prevailing COVID conditions and related public health management practices in place at the time. Meetings will be utilized to present and discuss project progress and solicit public input and feedback. Potential workshops and pop-up stations will gather input from the public via a variety of materials garnered to best serve each county in which they are held. Additional engagement strategies such as online surveys, virtual presentations, interactive displays, video summaries, handouts, and website promotion will be used to reach the largest population within each county to the largest extent possible.
Key stakeholders within a community are those who have a wide sphere of influence. Stakeholders can include local business owners, property owners, municipal department leaders, school administration and teachers, committee members or elected officials. Stakeholders for the Wabash River Greenway were identified by county representatives within the Wabash River Greenway Steering Committee.
The intent of this planning project is to identify routes where the greenway corridor can be constructed without land acquisition. Donated land and right-of-way to accommodate regional connectivity are welcome. While the goal is to limit land acquisition, some land acquisition is anticipated to achieve connectivity goals.
Utilizing multiple surveys allows the project team to gather general information that relates to early stages of the master plan. The project team will use that feedback to tailor additional surveys to each specific community along the greenway corridor at a later date in the planning process.
Pilot projects can take many forms. They can be projects that have been previously vetted by community leaders and are ready to be implemented or newly discovered projects that provide a key connection or link to the region. Pilot projects are designed to demonstrate the benefits of the Wabash River Greenway while building connectivity to local community trails and the established attractions and amenities that these local trails already serve.