Nickel Plate Trail Possible for Future

Yesterday, the Indy Star dropped one of the more enticing nuggets that I’ve seen in a while. A 50 mile long connected loop of a trail between the Monon, Midland Trace Trail, and Nickel Plate would at the very least help to provide an alternative to the traffic-clogged northeast corridor.

I’d encourage this trail development, and I would hope that they will still maintain the rail right-of-way. However, it must be noted that the Nickel Plate’s path is quite suburban in makeup. It would make more sense for the Monon Trail to be rail than for the Nickel Plate, but with the future Red Line BRT planned nearby on College Avenue, that is not very likely. I’ve basically given up on rail transit for Indy, for now. It’s just too expensive, and we don’t have the density to support it. However, we can still chip away at solving those problems, and building a new trail seems like it could be a good start. Here’s a map that I drew of the potential loop:

Image Credit: Google Maps

I know there are some that would counter that it’s kind of obnoxious that the north side once again stands to benefit from an amenity. And I agree to that. Let’s do this elsewhere, Indianapolis. But still: let’s do it here, as the plans are already in place in the suburbs, and it’s simply easier to go along with an already jump-started process.

Comments 8

  • Fort Wayne has a bike trail system over 100 miles and counting. I can ride almost 15 miles either south, east or west from Johnny Appleseed park and only cross traffic 2 or three times on any of the routs. Pretty cool

  • Tucson has the “loop” a 131 mile trail around the city with some spokes to suburbs.

  • Removing Rail and ignoring the possibility of Rail AND Trail is a false narrative that meets the needs of those who hope to profit from the Nickle Plate trail only option.

    Many I know favor the trail only option because they believe removing the rails will eliminate the possibility of light rail. They don’t understand railbanking and they wish to drive a stake through the heart of any possible future rail usage. It does not.

    While I don’t favor light rail at this time for the reasons you cited I see no reason to spend large sums dismantling a perfectly usable asset when it can be preserved and the trail can be added alongside. I believe it is less costly than dismantling the rail and repaving as a trail only.

    We so often regret decisions to dismantle our old neighborhoods and history after the fact. Don’t make the same mistake.

    The only people I know that favor this project have potential financial gains or are simply trying to kill light rail.

    • Another option is to pave over rails, put in a side trail, and use the corridor as an “instant” IndyGo BRT expansion from downtown to Castleton sometime in the next 5-10 years. There are even existing crossing gates at major arteries that can allow the BRT to function as true 45-50mph rapid transit, without stopping at all between stations.

  • I strongly favor this project and I’m not trying to kill transit. I live in the 71st/Bindford/Allisonville area and we need better north/south bike infrastructure than a 3′ striped shoulder along Allisonville Rd.

    • Agree completely. Neither need be excluded. They save money by not tearing out the track which takes them a whole lot closer to being able to afford to do the project.

      I should have been more clear. The people I know in Hamilton County only want to put a stake through the heart of light rail. Indy has a definite need now and has needed it far longer.

    • Agreed Jack! I admit that I’m biased (big cycling advocate) and I’d love nothing more than to see the Nickle Plate become Monon 2.0.
      Rick, you make good points. I suppose my perception is shaped by the section of Monon that has NP tracks adjacent to it and frankly, looks terrible.

      Converting the NP line into a greenway has awesome potential to connect people to businesses and increase utility cycling. I think the biggest problem is that unlike the Monon, it doesn’t have built-in overpasses to jump over busy streets like Keystone. Something to address in the future, perhaps.

  • Rick: I couldn’t agree with you more. Furthermore, to kill the only public transit route from Noblesville tip Indy is a grievous error which will end up in an extravagant expansion of the highway in that area. No vision, no real improvement in the communities’ way of life. Since the right of way exists to allow the Nickle Plate to connect to a Union Station, the loss of this visionary asset will be a monument to folly.

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