Two Hamilton County cities have announced a plan to transform more than nine miles of the existing Nickel Plate Rail line into a walking and biking trail. Fishers and Noblesville officials say the project could cost approximately $9.3 million. The Nickel Plate Trail will be developed under a federal program that keeps open the possibility of re-establishing rail service along the corridor in the future.
The 14-foot-wide pedestrian and bike path will connect 96th Street in downtown Fishers to Pleasant Street in downtown Noblesville. Noblesville Mayor John Ditslear says "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.”
(Rendering of Fishers’ portion of the project.)
Fishers Mayor Scott Fadness said "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." Those challenges include what leaders in the communities call a deteriorating rail line. The line lost a high-profile user last year when the Noblesville-based Hoosier Heritage Port Authority suspended operations of the Indiana State Fair train. The Indiana Transportation Museum operated the train along the 37-mile Nickel Plate line that runs between Tipton and Indianapolis.
(Rendering of Noblesville’s portion of the project.)
Both mayors agree the trail fits with the direction their cities are going. "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 Fadness. Ditslear said "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 cities are holding community listening session in the coming weeks, including:
- March 21 at Fishers City Hall Auditorium
- March 23 at Noblesville City Hall