Indianapolis Cultural Trail to bridge White River in $21M expansion
A planned expansion of the Indianapolis Cultural Trail will border two attractions planned for the southwest part of downtown Indianapolis: an Indy Eleven soccer stadium and a new White River State Park green space next to the future Elanco Animal Health Inc. headquarters.
Announced Tuesday, the trail will cross the White River as part of the planned Henry Street Bridge south of Washington Street. Plans for the Henry Street Bridge already called for ample pedestrian and bicyclist areas parallel to two vehicular lanes.
The one-mile trail expansion is expected to cost $21.2 million, officials said, with the Indiana Economic Development Corp. contributing $18.2 million and the city contributing $3 million.
“We are so grateful to our state and city partners who are making the White River expansion of the cultural trail possible,” said Kären Haley, executive director of Indianapolis Cultural Trail Inc., in a written statement. “In total, the cultural trail has received more than $100 million from government, foundation and private donors and supporters.”
At its western end, the expansion of the pedestrian and bicyclist trail will meet White River Parkway Drive and the former General Motors Stamping Plant site. The Elanco campus, being built on 40 acres of the former factory site, will be bordered to the east by a greenspace expansion of White River State Park.
“It will be a 15-acre plot of land that’s essentially from the White River to the front door of Elanco,” White River State Park Executive Director Jake Oakman told the IBJ earlier this year. North of Washington street, White River State Park includes the Indianapolis Zoo, Indiana State Museum, Victory Field, Eiteljorg Museum, TCU Amphitheater, Imax Theatre and NCAA Hall of Champions.
To the east of the Henry Street Bridge, the trail’s expansion will continue along Henry Street to Kentucky Avenue. The portion of Henry Street east of the river is an alley at the southern edge of the former Diamond Chain Co. plant, which will be razed to make way for the Indy Eleven soccer stadium.
Plans for the $1 billion Eleven Park mixed-use development include the 20,000-seat stadium and a 4,000-seat entertainment venue.
“This expansion creates the connectivity and walkability of this area to the rest of downtown,” Indy Eleven owner Ersal Ozdemir said in a written statement. “We look forward to being part of the continued legacy of the cultural trail that gives residents and visitors a great way to explore our growing neighborhoods, cultural districts and entertainment venues.”
The trail expansion includes Kentucky Avenue between Henry and South streets, plus South Street between West Street and Capitol Avenue.
Work on the expansion is projected to be completed in late 2026.
Officially named the Indianapolis Cultural Trail: A Legacy of Gene and Marilyn Glick, the path opened in 2013 as a way to connect cultural districts Mass Ave, Indiana Avenue, the Central Canal, White River State Park, the Wholesale District and Fountain Square.
The trail made a loop around downtown and covered six miles with a development price tag of $63 million. Federal grants, local businesses and philanthropic sources provided the funding.
An initial expansion to the trail is ongoing and expected to wrap up in late spring 2024. Announced in February 2020, the $30 million expansion includes work on Indiana Avenue and 10th Street, plus South Street between Capitol Avenue and New Jersey Street.
Funding from Lilly Endowment Inc., Elevance Health Foundation, Lilly Foundation and the city added up to $28.5 million for the first expansion. The cultural trail is seeking contributions to cover the remaining $1.5 million, Haley said.
When the two expansions are complete, the trail will total nine miles of pathways.
The Department of Public Works has scheduled a public meeting for the Henry Street bridge project at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday in which it is expected to announce the “Circle City Gateway” ringed concept as the preferred design for the bridge. The meeting is set for the Biltwell Event Center, 950 S. White River Parkway W. Drive. The meeting will also cover archaeology research on the east side of the river.