Work on closing the gap in the Pumpkinvine Nature Trail between County Road 33 and County Road 20 began at the end of July, 2018 and the bridge across the south fork of Pine Creek was finished during the winter by Yoder Construction. Pulver Asphalt and Paving, Albion, Ind. has resumed construction on the remainder of the trail and expects to finish by the end of June.
“The bridge builders had other projects to work on and could not give the resources to building the bridge when they were needed,” said Bernie Cunningham, superintendent of Elkhart County Parks, the agency managing construction.
Frequent heavy rains slowed the construction after it resumed this spring.
It won’t be long before we will see the closing of a one-mile gap in the Pumpkinvine Nature Trail between County Road 33 and County Road 20. This project has been in process for over five years and involved negotiating with five landowners because the Friends of the Pumpkinvine owned only five percent of the Pumpkinvine corridor in this section.
This part of the Pumpkinvine corridor was conveyed to the railroad back in the 1890s as an easement, and that easement went away when the railroad abandoned rail service in 1982, i.e., the land reverted to the adjacent landowners. So, to put a trail through this section on the old corridor meant getting the cooperation of these five adjacent landowners who now owned the Pumpkinvine corridor.
Our thinking all along was that the most persuasive argument for the trail would be for these landowners to see and use the Pumpkinvine themselves as it approached their area. So, we waited over 20 years for that to happen before we approached them. All were Amish and trail users and by that time they saw the value of the trail for the Amish community. They like the Pumpkinvine, but arriving at a route through this section involved missing wetlands and figuring out a way to accommodate a landowner whose land was divided by the trail.
The trail through this section will eliminate hills on County Road 33 and County Road 20, and the rough surface of County Road 20, which seems to get worse by the day. It also has very fast traffic. Now the challenge is to close the gap between County Road 20 and County Road 35.