A trail is being planned from Niles to Berrien Springs, and plans are in the works for a pedestrian bridge over Lake Chapin as part of the effort. Indiana Michigan River Valley Trail Committee member Deb Conley tells WSJM News the goal is to have the ten mile Indiana Michigan River Valley Trail completed within about five years. It mostly would follow an AEP easement following a rail line that once ran from South Bend to Benton Harbor. A question is what to do once the trail gets along Rangeline Road near M-139. Conley says it could continue along M-139.
“But far more appealing to those of us in Berrien Township, Oronoko Township, and the village of Berrien Springs would be to use the old interurban railway abutments that are in Lake Chapin and build a new bridge there,” Conley said.
From 1904 to 1934, the interurban rail line used a bridge that was across Lake Chapin. Conley says it was taken out in 1939, but its abutments are still in the lake. The committee wants to use them to build a pedestrian bridge.
“We just had an inspection of those abutments to see if they would hold another bridge, and they will. So we very well may build that bridge before the rest of the trail happens.”
The goal now is to start a capital campaign to raise the roughly $5 million needed to build the pedestrian bridge. Conley says that should begin in the coming months. Meanwhile, the Indiana Michigan River Valley Trail Committee is also asking the public for information on the old bridge. For example, what happened to one of the abutments that’s no longer there? Anyone who can help is asked to contact the community development director of the village of Berrien Springs.