Restoring a Historic Blueway

Laporte County Conservation Trust Inc. (LPCCT)

The La Porte Chain-of-Lakes Blueway: This chain of deep, glacial lakes were celebrated in the 19th Century as the very reason why the City of La Porte was sited here, in the first place. Over the decades, some of its member lakes were disconnected from the chain. But four lakes (five, if you consider North and South Pine to be separate lakes) still remain connected. Yet, the full connectedness of this blueway is impeded by a single obstacle -- the now impassable Weller Ave. culvert.

Replacing the Weller Ave Culvert itself with a passable bridge is the MOST important single step for restoring the full navigability to this chain-of-lakes blueway. But a project like that, to reopen a wonderful but long closed interlaken water thoroughfare, must be executed a step at a time. It also must be done with careful planning, beforehand:

a.) How Can This Be Funded? Locating and securing the monies to undertake a project like this MUST be done before the first shovel of dirt is scooped. Local governments -- both the City of La Porte and the La Porte County Commission -- must be involved and supportive. 

b.) How Long Would It Take to Construct a Bridge to Replace this Culvert? Some years ago, the construction of channel bridge at Waverly Road occurred. Is there a record somewhere of how much time was needed to complete that project? This project would likely involve a similar length of time to complete. 

c.) How and Where would the pieces of the New Bridge and the Fragments of the Old Culvert be Stored, While Construction was Occurring? How nearby these pieces could be kept and retrieved when needed would have a big effect on time to completion.

d.) What are the logistics of short-term closure of this street? Weller Ave. is a small, but VERY busy street. Not long ago, an important part of it was closed for sewer repair and a large tree removal. That work lasted approximately one week. It would be extremely important to plan a highly effective detour system, that caused as little congestion and accident potential as possible. 

e.Ensure the Interior Span of the Bridge Passage is Sufficiently High. This is one of the MOST IMPORTANT factors to determine, if the dream of an interlaken boat route can once again be realized. If the passage under the new bridge is simply too low, then this thoroughfare would be limited to kayakers, canoeists, fishermen and other small vessel users. These users are important to be sure. But if the span is high enough, the small vessel users can share this waterway with low excursion boats that can regain the glory of La Porte's storied past. Figure A. is a photographic image of the historic original bridge. (Courtesy of the La Porte County Historical Society Museum. 

f.) Link Eco-Friendly Economic Enterprise to this Re-Expansion of La Portes Chain of Lakes Blueway. As noted above with the Moraine Forest, this assertion/reclaiming of this portion La Porte's Chain-of-Lakes Blueway should involve private enterprise. Lakeside restaurants, boating and fishing equipment stores, other tourism related sales establishments can all find mutual benefit from its "re-birth" as a water thoroughfare. Maps 8. and 9. show the possibilities for a return of interlaken excursion boat tourism on this wonderful blueway. 

For WAY too long, through the Twentieth Century, the City of La Porte had acted as if it only had two lakes (Pine and Stone). Instead of the ten deep water lakes that encircle the northerly part of the city. Among them, at least eight have public recreational potential (if they are not already so used). By expanding the ready accessibility of the City's historic chain of lakes from Lily Lake to Pine Lake, the City would be reclaiming a recreational resource that once brought it fame all over Indiana, along with much of the Midwest beyond its borders. Because a bridge over a waterway is involved, buy-in and support by the County is also critical to this happening. To forgo such an opportunity would be to settle for recreational/tourism mediocrity and ignore the resources in its midst that other municipalities would figuratively "kill" to have and creatively use.