Jun 182018

By Mary Beth Spalding and Joseph Dits South Bend Tribune
NILES — It will be at least another year before the final gap in a popular trail is filled in, allowing walkers and bicyclists an uninterrupted path from Niles to Mishawaka.

brandywineBids on the project to create a 1-mile section of trail through Brandywine Creek Nature Park in Niles Township had to be rejected, according to Jill DeLucia, chairwoman of the Niles Township Parks Commission. That means Indiana-Michigan River Valley Trail users eager to roll straight through beginning late this fall might not have that opportunity until the fall of 2019.
“I’m very disappointed because I thought we were on track,” DeLucia said. Meanwhile, part of the trail just below the state line in Indiana has been finished. Officials had hoped trail completion on both the Indiana and Michigan sides would coincide this year. DeLucia said an informal conversation between project engineers and one of the bidders led to the decision by the state to reject the bids.
“I think it was an innocent thing,” DeLucia said, “but it wasn’t according to protocol.”

She said the conversation was triggered in part because three bids for the approximately $875,000 project all came in about 30 percent higher than expected, although it’s unclear why.
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