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Proposed recreational trail along abandoned rail line appears blocked

COLDWATER (WTVB) - A victory for property owners and a defeat for bikers and hikers. That seems to be the outcome after more than a year of meetings and discussion concerning a proposed trail linking Branch and St. Joseph Counties with a linear park connecting Coldwater, Bronson, Burr Oak and Sturgis along nearly 16 miles of abandoned Indiana Northeastern rail line.

About five dozen landowners whose property is adjacent to the rail path have reportedly reached a tentative agreement to purchase the land parcels from Indiana Northeastern.  The expected finalization of the deal to buy the track right of way will effectively block the efforts of the Friends of the Tamarack Rail Trail, Inc. and the Branch Area Bicycle Association for the recreational trail. The groups had hoped their project and the purchase of the track could have been largely funded with federal and state monies through Railbanking, a government program to spur the creation of trails along old rail beds.