Nickel Plate Trail

Nickel Plate

PROJECT: Nickel Plate Trail

TIMELINE: Funding has been secured and design is ongoing. Construction anticipated to start in March 2023. It's anticipated substantial completion is Thanksgiving 2023. 

PROJECT GOALS: Increased pedestrian safety, mobility and trail connectivity.

OWNER: City of Noblesville

ENGINEER: A&F Engineering

CONTRACTOR: Not yet bid or awarded

SCOPE: The city will construct its portion of the Nickel Plate Trail from 146th Street to Pleasant Street. This trail will be 12-feet wide and include the rehabilitation of two existing railroad bridges and conversion to pedestrian facilities. The cities of Fishers and Indianapolis have both also received funding for their portions of this trail, which is part of DNR’s State Visionary Trail system. The entire trail length will be 17.8 miles when complete. A loop of Nickel Plate, Midland Trace, and Monon Trails will allow a user an over 41 mile loop of dedicated pedestrian connectivity.

MILEAGE: 2.7 miles

ESTIMATED COST: $3.4 million. The city applied for and received $3.1 million in a DNR Next Level Trails grant in 2022. 

BACKGROUND: The Nickel Plate Trail would be an all-weather, ADA accessible, asphalt surfaced multi-modal, non-motorized path up to 12 feet in width and 17.8 miles long when complete and connect the eastern portions of Hamilton County and Marion County for bike/pedestrian use.  Design will be universal accessible and meet all ADA requirements. Rectangular rapid flashing beacons will be placed at major roadway intersections and include all applicable intersection ramps.

Noblesville’s section will run from 146th Street north to Pleasant Street, which is an east-west urban roadway located just south of the downtown square where the Nickel Plate will intersect with the programmed and funded section of the Midland Trace Trail that goes to bid in late 2022. This project will complete the connection of the Midland Trace Trail to its existing terminus at SR 38/Hague Road.

Approximately 2.7 miles in length, Noblesville has already begun work on preliminary design of the Nickel Plate Trail. A&F Engineering has been contracted to perform this design, and has recently completed the site survey and submitted preliminary plans for review, in preparation for moving towards final design.

Recent public outreach included sending 1,140 letters directly to residents living within ¼ mile of the trail corridor. The adjoining homeowners associations have all been contacted. All feedback received from residents has been overwhelming positive. The biggest question has been how and where they can access the trail. We have begun the process of coordinating with the adjacent neighborhoods on the best, mutually-agreed upon, locations for this access. The uniqueness of the segment through the City of Noblesville is that there are no public road crossings through a large segment of the corridor. While this gives a design challenge, it also gives the opportunity for a wilderness feel along the White River and Stony Creek, in an otherwise urban environment.

Noblesville looks forward to the opportunity to use the trail as a means to strengthen existing neighborhoods and an adjacent business park, revitalize an area that has experienced an economic decline in recent decades and provide trail connectivity to downtown for residents who have no trail connectivity today.

The Nickel Plate Trail will provide a variety of benefits for local residents, such as:

  • Improving safe walkability and connectivity
  • Providing daily, year-round recreational amenity
  • Spurring redevelopment for struggling residential and commercial areas
  • Increasing nearby property values
  • Creating new opportunities for art, history, culture, and health

In 2017, when the project scoping was started, it was conservatively estimated that the trail will attract 250,000 annual users from just Noblesville and Fishers – not counting those users from Indianapolis, Westfield, and Carmel – also on the three trail loop of Midland-Monon-Nickel Plate.

In late 2019 and early 2020, the Nickel Plate train tracks were removed from downtown Noblesville south to Indianapolis. Meanwhile, the most northern 12 miles of remaining track in Hamilton County are preserved for the Nickel Plate Express, a new excursion train that began running along the Nickel Plate Railroad in Fall 2018, and continues to have great success in the northern part of the county.

When combined, the Nickel Plate Trail to the south with the northern Nickel Plate Railroad will create a win-win in Central Indiana for both trail users and rail enthusiasts, celebrating our region’s transportation history while moving forward into the future with a year round recreational amenity. On a larger scale, the complete Nickel Plate Trail project has the potential to spur new investment for all the communities along the trail while attracting young talent to choose Indiana as their home and place of business.

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