As a central Indiana resident and chairman of the Board of Indiana Trails, I am appalled to learn there were no satisfactory bids to do a complete job of removing the Nickel Plate Railroad tracks, ties and rail spikes, and then rebuild the railroad crossings impacted. Yet, the Hoosier Heritage Port Authority still voted to move forward.
There is a simple, practical answer to the situation that would actually be more beneficial to the community: Leave the tracks where they are and create a biking/ jogging/ hiking/walking trail along the right-of-way of the existing tracks. That course of action would save the taxpayers the substantial expense of removing the beds and building new crossings at street and road intersections.
Plenty of evidence exists of “rails and trails” coexisting for the benefit of the communities they serve. An analysis of the existing Nickel Plate right-of-way reveals there is sufficient space for a synergistic solution that will allow the creation of the trail and keep the railroad tracks for historic and entertainment purposes.
Trains are demonstrably popular among the people of Indiana, and the Indiana (State) Fair trains proved to be popular when they ran fairgoers from Fishers to the Indiana State Fairgrounds. A trail along the Nickel Plate would very likely prove to be appreciated by the public, and keeping the rails for their potential development as educational artifacts of our community’s history makes sense.
As a child, I remember the excitement and fun of riding the old Grand Trunk Railroad from Chicago to Flint, Mich. In recent years, I have enjoyed taking my grandchildren to ride on existing museums on rails in Indiana.
Let’s do something positive for the northeast side of our community: Develop the “rails and trails” potential of the Nickel Plate.
Tom Williams, chairman Indiana Trails, Inc.