DELPHI, Ind. (WLFI) - A beautiful trail with a tragic past in Delphi will be getting a fresh start. The city is getting $1,274,939 in grant funding from the state to help update the Monon High Bridge Trail. This is the same trail that Abigail Williams and Liberty German were killed on in 2017.
Right now, the Monon High Bridge Trail is a little less than a mile and a half of gravel trail. It starts at City Park and ends at the Monon Bridge over Deer Creek just east of town. The grant money will be used to fix up a little less than a mile of the trail.
This grant money is part of Governor Eric Holcomb's Next Level Trails initiative. The first round of grant winners was announced last week. Over the course of multiple rounds, the state will be giving out $90 million to help with trail refurbishment across the state. The Monon High Bridge Trail was one of 17 trails awarded money in the first round.
Delphi Mayor Shane Evans was the one in charge of getting the grant ready in a short two-month time span.
"We kind of did an assessment of the trails in and around the city to try and figure out where we could expand, what we could improve," he said. "The Monon High Bridge Trail seemed like the right fit."
Right now, you can't get to the Monon Bridge that crosses Deer Creek. A chain link fence blocks off the area where the two young girls lost their lives. However, now is a time to start rebuilding the trail, and the broken hearts of the city.
"The trail has the most amenities," he said. "The Monon Bridge is one of the oldest and tallest railroad trestles in the state. It was constructed back in 1891. You can see where transportation intersected with the natural area and how that influenced the City of Delphi."
Mayor Evans said they plan to use the money to widen the trail for bicycle use, pave it for ADA accessibility, and fix a spot of erosion.
On top of security cameras already installed, Mayor Evans says having the public take back the trails is important. A match on the grant from NICHES Land Trust is going toward decking and railing for the Monon Bridge.
Since the tragedy on the trail, the city has taken measures to make the trails safer, such as adding security cameras and more informational kiosks with maps. Mayor Evans said he hopes getting the trails fixed up will contribute to safety in another way.
"The more people we get out there walking and utilizing the trails, the likely hood that another crime will occur decreases because you have good citizens out there watching and being vigilant," he said.
"I was living in California at the time when it happened and it really broke my heart," said Anthony Trujillo, who moved to Delphi last summer. He and his pup Jack go on walks three times a day around Delphi. He thinks these improvements will be a good thing for trail safety.
"People from out of town look for things to do, and it's something that is fun," he said. "I hope they make it safer to walk on like maybe a make it little wider or maybe add lights at night and stuff like that."
The goal of the update, "to go out and experience the natural beauty, the transportation, and the history of the city of Delphi," said Mayor Evans.
He said they will start working on the trail this construction season. They expect it to all be complete by November 2020. It is not known when the next round of Next Level Trail applicant winners will be announced. Nearly $25 million was awarded in the first round.