Statement from Mayor Scott Fadness:
I appreciate the hard work of everyone involved in making the Nickel Plate Trail a reality, including the strong leadership from Mayor Ditslear and the County Commissioners. The proposal approved today allows for the preservation of the train going north from Noblesville while providing a year round recreational trail amenity for our residents.
The Nickel Plate Railroad played an important role in our history as a city and I believe the Nickel Plate Trail will honor that history while creating an amenity that so many of our residents have requested. This will be transformational for the heart of our city and my team and I will work to involve as many community members in the planning of the trail design as possible. I look forward to honoring our past while celebrating the future of our vibrant city with the Nickel Plate Trail.
City of Noblesville Statement:
The joint decision made this morning by Hamilton County, the City of Fishers and City of Noblesville will provide the best of both worlds to our residents. By selecting Nickel Plate Heritage Railroad as the new operator, we are saving the Nickel Plate Railroad so that it never needs saving again. This option keeps the trains rolling from Downtown Noblesville, through Forest Park and north along the historic railroad. The other decision to pursue railbanking for the southern railroad leg starts the federal process to convert the line to a multiuse trail and preserves the right-of-way for any future mass transit opportunity.
Fishers Mayor Scott Fadness and Noblesville Mayor John Ditslear were joined by Hamilton County Commissioners today to announce a joint partnership to develop the Nickel Plate Trail, a 14-foot wide paved pedestrian and bicycle trail connecting the two cities from 96th Street in Fishers to Pleasant Street in Noblesville, totaling 9.2 miles. The Nickel Plate Trail would be developed over the existing Nickel Plate Rail line.
“The Nickel Plate Trail is another step in fulfilling our vision to create more opportunities for residents to really get out and experience our community,” said Fishers Mayor Scott Fadness. “With the challenges we are facing to save the rail line, this option helps provide similar connectivity, activates the space year-round, and has the potential for a positive economic impact to Fishers.”
The partnership complements both cities’ long-range trails plans and connects the two communities.
“Whether residents walk, run, bike or skate, the Nickel Plate Trail will highlight what is unique about each of our cities – from the new downtown of Fishers and the young entrepreneurs of Launch Fishers north to Noblesville’s historic downtown and the small-town charm that we hold so dear,” said Noblesville Mayor John Ditslear. “The Nickel Plate Trail will connect together the hearts of our downtown and provide an opportunity for our residents to experience each community like never before. For Noblesville residents, it will bring even greater walkability and add to our 84 miles of trails without replacing existing trail projects set to begin construction this year.”
The trail will be developed under a federal program as part of its National Trails System Act. The Act established the federal rail banking program which allows the owners of the rail corridor to convert the railroad to a pedestrian trail, while preserving the right to re-establish rail service.
The rail banking process is overseen by the federal Surface Transportation Board (STB), which could take six to 12 months, depending on response time of the STB.
“Transforming the rail to the Nickel Plate Trail gives these communities an opportunity to use these connection points today, rather than years down the line,” said Christine Altman, Hamilton County
Commissioner. “It also allows us to preserve the land for any potential long term transit plans. This is something we’re very supportive of.”
A preliminary cost estimate to convert 9.2 miles from rail to trail from 96th Street to Pleasant Street is approximately $9.3 M, assuming standard crossings at intersections. This is subject to change, and value engineering and grant opportunities for cost savings will be explored as part of the initial design phase.
Two community listening sessions are scheduled to answer questions and provide the public with the opportunity to learn more about the trail. The listening sessions are scheduled for Tuesday, March 21 from 6-8 p.m. at Fishers City Hall Auditorium (1 Municipal Drive, Fishers, IN 46037) and Thursday, March 23 from 6-8 p.m. at Noblesville City Hall, 2nd Floor Conference Room (16 S 10th St, Noblesville, IN 46060).