BROWNSBURG — Buoyed by a new Bicentennial Nature Trust grant, the B&O Trail is back on the expansion path. The funds will be used to connect what right now is the trail’s biggest gap, which is near the tunnel under Ronald Reagan Parkway connecting Brownsburg and Avon.
The Bicentennial Nature Trust was announced earlier this year in Gov. Mitch Daniels’ State of the State address and is a summation of $20 million to be used for conservation projects in every corner of the state. There were 14 applicants and the B&O Trails Association was one of 12 who were accepted.
“I said hallelujah,” said B&O Trails Association President Diana Virgil upon hearing they had received the grant. “This is just a purchase, so the first thing Brownsburg and the BOTA need to decide is how we are going to buy it, according to INDOT standards or not. But this is one of the questions we always get, when are you going to connect the two?”
The grant will be used to connect the mile gap just outside the tunnel to County Road 300 North and then another 3/4 of a mile west.
“We apply for anything that’s out there and occasionally get it,” Virgil said. “Any time we hear that money is available for land purchase, we definitely apply.”
The group received $155,950, which Virgil says is about half of what they need. They will independently raise the rest.
“We are still in the process of raising funds,” Virgil said. “This will be the major connection to the Ronald Reagan Parkway when it’s built.”
Virgil said the Nature Trust can be applied for quarterly, until all of the money designated to be given is gone. No application can exceed $300,000.
“This is wonderful,” Virgil said. “Mitch has done a wonderful job. When we gave our presentation (for the grant) and we talked about it, Mitch Daniels had put money into part of that. I’m actually very impressed that he has put so much emphasis on land for public use.”