By James Feichtner
For the City of Fishers, development of the city’s interconnectivity is a key objective. For some areas there remains room for new roads, trails and pathways, but for those pathways already developed and well-traveled there lies room for reconstruction.
One such pathway traveled more frequently than almost any other in Fishers is Fall Creek Trail. Located in the Geist area, Fall Creek Trail is estimated to be one of the most popular public pathways in the city, yet its shape is not tiptop and its width is inadequate to handle the volume it currently endures. Starting this fall the city is utilizing its Geist annexation fund to revamp the trail to handle its tremendous traffic.
“We’re excited about being able to enhance and improve the trail that’s already there,” Fishers Director of Engineering Jeff Hill said. “It’s one of the highest trafficked trails or sidewalk networks we’ve got in the entire Fishers community and so the opportunity to be able to widen some of those pedestrian bridges and widen some of the trail so that we can get even more users out there is definitely a benefit.”
The trail stretches approximately one and a half miles along Fall Creek Road. Implemented when Masthead was first established in Geist, the trail is about 20 years old and is not only seeing its age, but too narrow in some areas for two way traffic.
“It’s not the best for two way traffic. We’re widening it,” Assistant Director of Engineering Jason Taylor said. “It’s going to be a 10 foot path with a few areas that may have to squeeze down just for various constraints. We’re really trying to promote the two way traffic and more space onto the trail.”
In addition to widening the trail, the city plans to redo some of the bridges and boardwalks, making it more efficient and aesthetically pleasing to residents.
“We’re going to be redoing three of the boardwalks; pedestrian bridges,” Taylor said. “The major one actually goes across Geist right there where you can overlook [the reservoir]. Originally our plan was to have multiple overlook areas, but when looking at it it was in the best interest of the project to make it one larger overlook area. It can be used for people to sit. It can be used for just looking; fishing. We are going to go with a weathered steel look so that it still has that feel of the wooden, but the maintenance of it is less, so less future dollars will be spent on it.”
To fund the reconstruction, the city is utilizing some of the funds from the Geist Annexation fund. The funds cannot be used for just regular maintenance and must be used for improvements to the area. This particular project was given popular feedback by residents.
“This was a recommendation from the Geist impoundment committee,” Taylor said. “They identified different projects for the area and they saw feedback from the entire community on which ones they wanted to see and it was these certain [projects]that they put at the top of this and this was one of them.”
The budget for the project was projected at $2 million. Recently, the city opened bids for construction, but after receiving higher than preferred bids from contractors, the city is revaluating how the overall construction will operate and will attempt to capture more bids.
“We really have been kind of targeting a $2 million budget,” Hill said. “We thought it was going to be a little bit less than that, and we did just open the bids for the project and it actually came in a little higher. What we’re actually trying to do is relook at how we kind of constrained the bidders and where they can work and we’re actually going to put it back out there [for bid]and see if we can get closer to that budget number.”
During construction, the city is hoping to minimize closures of the trail and impact on the surrounding environment, but some closures are likely imminent.
“One thing we heard back in our feedback was we wanted to leave the trail open. We have to cut a few trees down and we’re just real concerned we can take trees down and not injure anyone and still be using the trail,” Hill said. “Those are some things we are still reevaluating. We might do some short closures or maybe even rip the band aid off and do a longer closure; we can get it done faster and build it easier. That’s what we’re trying to reevaluate with our designer and contractor we got from the bid. We are definitely still trying to move the project forward. We just need to reevaluate how we structure that so it fits within the budget.”
About Fall Creek Trail
Age of trail – Approximately 20 years
Trail Length – Roughly 1.6 miles
Construction start – Late October/Early November
Estimated completion time – July 2016
Trail alterations- Widening of path up to 10 feet. Reconstruction of boardwalks and pedestrian bridges.
Estimated trail closures – Currently unknown at this time but updates will be made aware upon construction.