First phase of Chessie Trail set to open

March 22, 2019

La PORTE — A new trail offering recreation and a connection to La Porte’s parks and lakes is primed to open.

The City of La Porte will dedicate the first phase of the Chessie Trail, a mile-long stretch of multi-use path from Pine Lake to NewPorte Landing, at 4 p.m. March 29, at Kiwanis-Teledyne Park.

The public is invited for the ribbon-cutting followed by a community ride, run and walk to christen the trail.

“Health, activity and wellness are an important focus in our community,” La Porte Mayor Mark Krentz said. “I am super excited that we will be celebrating the official opening of the first leg of the Chessie Trail.”

In advance of the dedication, the pedestrian hybrid beacon on Pine Lake Avenue, near the intersection with East Shore Parkway, will be activated by the Indiana Department of Transportation starting at 9 a.m. Tuesday.

The pedestrian hybrid beacon allows trail users to activate a red light at the crosswalk, permitting for time to safely cross the highway.

La Porte City Planner Beth Shrader said the pedestrian crossing at Pine Lake Avenue is the most important part of this trail.

“Prior to the opening of this crossing, there wasn’t a safe pedestrian crossing of Pine Lake Avenue north of Truesdell, which is over a mile away,” Shrader said. “This trail crossing is huge for win for northside neighborhoods, increasing pedestrian access to recreation on Pine Lake.”

The pedestrian hybrid beacon (PHB) is a traffic control device designed to help pedestrians safely cross busy or higher-speed roadways at midblock crossings and uncontrolled intersections.

The beacon head consists of two red lenses above a single yellow lens. The lenses remain “dark” until a pedestrian desiring to cross the street pushes the call button to activate the beacon.

The signal then initiates a yellow to red lighting sequence consisting of steady and flashing lights that directs motorists to slow and come to a stop. The pedestrian signal then flashes a “walk” display to the pedestrian. Once the pedestrian has safely crossed, the hybrid beacon again goes dark.

The city has asked the public to be aware of the device and reminds everyone that the speed limit on Pine Lake Avenue is 35 mph.

Park Superintendent Mark Schreiber said dedicating the “linear park” will enhance residents’ and visitors’ enjoyment of the city’s natural resources while creating more ways to be healthy and happy.

“The Chessie Trail will connect once-isolated neighborhoods to our parks and lakes,” Schreiber said. “The Chessie has the potential to inspire a culture of active living in La Porte –a community where people will choose to bike or walk to parks, shops, restaurants, school, work – because it is a convenient, fun and safe option.”

The community ride, run and walk on March 29 will launch from the newly-constructed trailhead in Kiwanis-Teledyne Park but will not follow a set course, as participants are encouraged to enjoy the trail at their own pace and even venture over to the multi-use trail constructed along Clear Lake Boulevard last fall. There is no registration necessary.

The project was primarily funded by Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality (CMAQ) funds earmarked by the federal government for projects with potential to reduce motorized vehicle traffic and improve air quality, with the Healthcare Foundation of La Porte providing a $232,020 grant for the 20-percent local match.

Planning is underway for the construction of the next segment of the Chessie Trail, which will pick up where the current trail ends in NewPorte Landing, head south into downtown and then west along 1st Street to L Street.

Construction for this leg of the trail is set to begin in 2021. The City will host public input sessions on the continuation of the Chessie Trail this summer, with dates announced in the coming weeks.

—From staff reports