FISHERS - The city of Fishers has released a feasibility study regarding alternative designs for the Nickel Plate Trail. The proposed project would transform more than 9 miles of the former Nickel Plate rail line between Fishers and Noblesville into a pedestrian trail. Opponents have been critical of the rail line's removal, however the feasibility study suggests preserving the line would result in more than $20 million in additional costs.

The city cites "continued inaccuracies shared to the media by train advocacy groups," in its reasoning for releasing the study. The study lists two options for preserving the rail line. The first creates an offset path that keeps the rail line in place but adds a trail alongside, which could cost an additional $20.5 million. The second re-centers the entire rail corridor within the best right-of-way with the trail alongside it, which the study says would cost an additional $39.8 million. 

"The conclusions of the report do not take into consideration the necessary repair, replacement, and upgrades to the rail line required before the line can become active as the proposed freight line," the city said in a news release. "These estimates do not include the cost of the development of the trail alongside the rail."

One opposing group known as Save the Nickel Plate, expressed "grave concerns" about the study in a news release Monday. 

"City officials have publicly asserted for two years that the trail-only decision was based on the results of a feasibility study but this is the first time the City has released a study," the group said. "Taxpayers should be highly skeptical of the City, especially since a new tax has been enacted to fund the "pretty pictures" that gloss over the realities of this ill-conceived project."

The group cites a track inspection report from the Hoosier Heritage Port Authority Railroad, which said the rehabilitation of the line would cost an estimated $3.7 million. That expense would be the responsibility of a rail operator and not taxpayers, according to the group.

The city says it stands by its decision to pursue the development of the Nickel Plate Trail without rail. Last week, the city unveiled the Nickel Plate Trail Master Plan 2040.

You can view the full feasibility by clicking here.