The Nickel Plate Trail is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to transform an unused stretch of the old Nickel Plate Railroad into a whole new kind of public space.
Who supports it?
The Cities of Fishers, Noblesville, and Indianapolis, and Hamilton County.
How much will it cost?
The project was initially estimated at $9.3 million, with $4.4 million allocated to the Fishers portion of the trail, approximately 5 miles, from 96th Street to 146th Street for a basic asphalt trail without crossings.
Phase 1, from 106th Street to 126th Street is estimated to cost $8.8 million, to include a pedestrian tunnel crossing at 116th Street. The budget for this phase was approved by City Council as part of the 2019 City Budget.
Phases 2 and 3 are estimated to cost $7.9 million, combined. The City has submitted a grant request from the State of Indiana’s Next Level Trails fund for $5 million to be allocated toward these phases.
A more detailed estimate of all phases will be completed once the Master Plan has been approved.
Who is going to pay for it?
The City of Fishers plans to use a variety of traditional infrastructure improvement funding methods including: bonds, state and federal grants, Parks operating budgets, etc.
In February 2019, the City of Fishers, in coordination with the Cities of Noblesville and Indianapolis, submitted a grant application for $5 million to the Indiana Department of Natural Resources for their Next Level Trails grant program.
When will the trail be completed?
The Master Plan will be completed by end of March 2019. Construction of the Fishers portion of the trail is anticipated to begin in the Fall of 2019 and will be constructed in phases. Residents may submit their comments on the draft Master Plan until March 31, 2019.
I live along the trail and am concerned about privacy. What can the city do to help?
There are a few places along the NPT where the grade is much higher on the trail or where the right-of-way narrows significantly, including around Cottingham Estates and Heritage Meadows, respectively. In these areas, the NPT Master Plan calls for privacy fence and landscape buffers on the NPT right-of-way. In areas where the City will be installing screening/privacy fencing in the NPT right-of-way, the grant program will not apply.
For those who live in a single-family home on property directly adjacent to the trail (i.e. your property line touches the trail right of way), the City is creating a new grant program that may go toward installing new landscaping and/or fencing on the resident’s private property. You may either opt-in to a citywide program that will help dollars go farther through bulk purchasing or work with a private contractor. We recognize there may be drainage easements or other utilities in rear yards that you have questions about. Our staff can help walk you through what options (additional landscaping and/or fencing) would be possible for your property’s unique characteristics. The estimated value of the grant program is up to $2,000 per private property and must be used for screening, privacy or buffering. To help City Staff gauge interest, please complete the resident survey. There are 118 private lots with single-family homes that are adjacent to the NPT and eligible for this program. The total cost of the grant program if everyone takes advantage would be $236,000.
The City plans to utilize funds received from salvaging the rails to pay for this new grant opportunity.
Will having a great, new public amenity like this impact property values?
Studies have shown that transformational projects like this can increase property values.
I’m a property owner along the trail and I’d like to potentially connect to the trail from my property. What’s the process for this?
We heard from several residents who were interested in connecting their property directly to the NPT. Non-structural connections (i.e. mulch or dirt path) will not be regulated. Due to underground utilities and drainage impacts, any structural connection desired (i.e. paved path, bridge, etc.) must be approved and permitted by the City. An NPT Right-of-way Permit will be developed by City Staff prior to construction of the trail. The master plan also notes nearest connections to the NPT for residents who live in nearby neighborhoods.
I have concerns about pedestrian safety, parking and how the trail will connect with the larger community. Will those be addressed?
Yes. NBBJ, one of the companies selected by the Nickel Plate Trail Master Planning Committee to work on the project, has extensive experience both nationally and internationally dealing with these exact issues. In fact, the firm’s ability to solve these problems is one of the reasons they were honored by Fast Company as the country’s "Most Innovative Architecture Firm.”
Proposed trail heads and pedestrian crossings have been incorporated into the draft Master Plan 2040. You can provide feedback on the Master Plan using the feedback form on this page.
Fishers Police Department has been a stakeholder and member of the master planning committee for the NPT from day one. The downtown portion of the NPT from South Street to Lantern Road (near the Library) will be open later, longer and have more lighting to create a destination experience. Outside of the downtown area, the trail will have similar hours as all Fishers Parks that are open from dawn to dusk. Motion-sensory, ground solar-powered lighting is being contemplated for the trail outside of the downtown area. Further, the plan calls for technology-enabled call boxes for public safety purposes every .25 miles along the trail.
I have heard proposals for co-locating the existing track with a new trail. Is this feasible?
The City of Fishers commissioned a study of the corridor to assess the feasibility of this option. The study can be found here. In summary, this option is feasible with the acquisition of a portion of or complete elimination of over 100 properties and buildings along the trail. Even without the cost associated with building the trail, this option would add an additional $20.5 million in property impacts, pedestrian bridges, trail embankments, retaining walls, and the required 6’ security fencing between the trail and the track.
What ever happened to the Nickel Plate Express?
It now operates out of Noblesville and runs year-round. You can find more about the excursion train here.