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Next Level Trails FAQs

  • What is the required match?

    Each project in the NLT program requires a minimum 20% match. For example, an applicant requesting $800,000 in grant assistance would be required to provide at least $200,000 in match for a $1 million project. However, consideration will be given to projects that exceed the minimum match requirement.

  • How much funding can I apply for?

    Applicants for regionally significant projects may request a maximum of $5 million and minimum of $250,000 in grant assistance. Applicants for locally significant projects may request a maximum of $2 million and minimum of $200,000. These limits are for the life of the program. Applicants are limited to one application per round

  • How many applications can I submit?

    Applicants are limited to one application per round. Applicants may NOT submit both a regional and local application; only one or the other. However, multiple applications may be submitted from within the same community or county as long as they come from separate, but eligible applicants.

  • Does Next Level Trails fund sidewalks or bike lanes?

    No. Sidewalks, bike lanes, and other on-road facilities are not an eligible cost. Additionally, they cannot be used as match. These types of facilities can play an important role in safe bicycle and pedestrian connectivity, but the Next Level Trails program is focused on developing and connecting trails. If including sidewalks or bike lanes in your map, please be sure to clearly denote this.

  • What are basic trail amenities?

    Basic amenities include benches, bike racks, trash cans, directional signage, trail markings, trail counters, pet waste stations, and modest lighting near intersections and trailheads. Trailheads, which may include parking, restrooms, water fountains, picnic tables, shade structures, and nodes are also eligible costs if needed. All trailhead and node facilities must be accessible to persons with disabilities. Sidewalks, bike lanes, interpretive signage, lighting of the entire corridor, playgrounds, splash pads, dog parks, phone apps, etc. are NOT eligible costs in the NLT program.

  • Are there guidelines for hard-surface, multi-use trail?

    The desired width for a hard-surface, multi-use trail is 10-12 feet wide to provide safe passage between bicycles and pedestrians. Wider trails may be allowed depending on context. Eight-foot wide trails are the absolute minimum acceptable width and should only be used in certain situations. Widths smaller than 8 feet are generally considered sidewalk and are not an eligible cost.

    Acceptable hard-surface types include concrete, asphalt, and crushed stone. Crushed stone surfaces must include compactable “fines” to provide a firm and stable surface. Treated lumber or composite boardwalk is acceptable for crossing wetlands or flood-prone areas, as needed.

    Recommended grade for a multi-use trail is 5% running slope or less, and cross slope should be 2% or less. Please consult the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD) for guidance on multi-use trail signage and crossings. The Guide for the Development of Bicycle Facilities by the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) is another good resource for trail design guidelines.

  • Are any trail types not eligible?

    Motorized trails and water trails are not eligible for this program.

  • What counts as local match?

    Eligible match includes monetary contributions (appropriations, bond issues, force account, cash donations), land value, and in-kind donations of materials, equipment, and labor. Previous expenses or donations related to the project may be credited as match, subject to DNR review.

  • What is the difference between partners and supporters?

    Partners provide substantial financial or other valuable resources to the project. Partners generally commit to donate money, land, labor, materials, or other services. Supporters, on the other hand, may encourage the development of the project without providing resources. Supporters generally offer public endorsements and/or letters of support.

  • How do I know if my project is in the State Visionary Trail System Corridor?

    Please check the Visionary Trails System Map.

  • What if my project is in the right-of-way of a road?

    Projects that are constructed in a road right-of-way (ROW), often called side paths, are eligible. Applicants using ROW must demonstrate that they control the ROW or have written permission from the entity that does control the ROW. Applicants seeking the use of INDOT ROW must contact their District Office about approval prior to applying. Applicants using ROW should also include documentation that the project is of public knowledge. This may include publicly available plans, planning documents, newspaper articles, public meeting minutes, etc.

  • What if my Next Level Trails project is part of a larger project?

    Your NLT project may be part of larger trail project or network, an active transportation plan, park project, quality of life initiative, or re-development plan. However, in order not to confuse our NLT reviewers and rating committee, please focus your application on the scope of work you are requesting Next Level Trails grant funds for. In particular, the application form should only reflect your specific NLT project. Larger projects or initiatives can be referenced in the Regional or Comprehensive Plans, Site or Conceptual Maps, or the Project Narrative sections of your application packet, but please make sure your application clearly differentiates between the larger project and the one you are applying for NLT funds for.

  • How do I submit an application?

    Applications and attachments must be submitted electronically to nextleveltrails@dnr.IN.gov. Applicants will be notified that their application has been received. Attachments should be labeled according to the Application Checklist.

    If the application with attachments exceeds 19 MB, you must split the application packet into multiple, smaller emails OR email a request for an invite to use GoAnywhere, a free file sharing service used by the State of Indiana. Those planning to use GoAnywhere should request an email invite no later than Nov. 19.

    Applications submitted via Dropbox, Google Drive, Box, etc. will NOT be received. No paper applications will be accepted.

  • What is the application deadline?

    The application deadline for the third round of funding is Dec. 1, 2021 at 5 p.m. ET/4 p.m. CT.

  • Can I include multiple maps in my application packet?

    Yes, multiple maps will be accepted and may be necessary to best show all the information relevant to your project in a clear manner. All applications should have at least one site or comprehensive map and one parcel map and table, if the project includes land acquisition. For more information on maps, see the Application Handbook.

  • What if my project is not awarded funds this round?

    Applicants not awarded funds in previous rounds may re-apply for the next round. All returning applicants must submit a new application form and packet to nextleveltrails@dnr.IN.gov by the application deadline. Returning applicants are welcome to amend or alter their applications as desired. Applicants are encouraged to include a table of contents within their application packet. Please note: Applications that were determined ineligible in a previous round will need to address those items in order to be considered in the next round.

  • If I need to hire consultants for planning, engineering or project management, are there requirements?

    Grantees are not required to hire consultants under the NLT program. However, any professional services, such as design, engineering and project management, that are hired and compensated with Next Level Trails funds are encouraged to be performed by an entity that is INDOT pre-qualified. More information regarding professional services categories and a list of INDOT pre-qualified consultants can be found on INDOT’s website.

  • How does Next Level Trails differ from federally funded trail grants?

    The Next Level Trails program was designed to facilitate the development of large amounts of trail in a time-efficient manner. By using state funds, being flexible with match requirements, and encouraging partnerships, NLT funds can be stretched further. State funds also allow for NLT projects to bypass some costly and time-consuming requirements related to federal funds. On average, cost estimates for NLT projects should be lower than those using federal funds. Additionally, using upfront, phased payments rather than reimbursement also allows for NLT projects to develop faster.

  • Who do I talk to if I have more questions about applying?

    Questions can be sent to nextleveltrails@dnr.IN.gov.

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