FISHERS, Ind. (AP) — A group that promotes trails and greenways is trying to persuade officials in two Indianapolis suburbs to include both a railway and a trail in the redevelopment of an old rail line.
Fishers and Noblesville announced plans last year to remove the tracks along a 9.2-mile stretch of the Nickel Plate corridor through part of Hamilton County and turn it into a greenway trail, the Indianapolis Business Journal reported.
But the Hoosier Rails to Trails Council wrote letters this week asking Fishers Mayor Scott Fadness, Noblesville Mayor John Ditslear and the Hamilton County commissioners to meet and discuss the idea of including both a railway and a trail along the corridor.
"While local officials have suggested that the proposed trail-only is the sole feasible option for the corridor between Fishers and Noblesville, opponents of the plan have stated from early on that rails-with-trails would be a more inclusive compromise to allow the railroad corridor to remain intact and operational," said Richard Vonnegut, vice chairman of the council.
There is a growing trend of rail-with-trail development in transit corridors, according to the council.
"Communities which have chosen to develop trails alongside their railroad corridors reap all of the usual benefits of a trail, but with the added advantages of additional transportation options, increased land development value, expanded tourism activity and deeper community engagement," Vonnegut said.
City and county planners have said the corridor won't accommodate both a trail and rails without major redevelopment costs.
The rail is built on an incline in the center of the right of way, making it "really difficult to find space without acquiring (additional) right of way," said Ashley Elrod, spokeswoman for Fadness.
Ditslear spokesman Robert Herrington said that Noblesville's "proposed trail-only project for the corridor will safely convert the existing rail corridor to a trail without any loss of property or installation of fencing."