Making connections: City of Noblesville celebrates opening of its stretch of Nickel Plate Trail

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The City of Noblesville and the Indiana Department of Natural Resources held a ribbon-cutting ceremony Oct. 26 for Noblesville’s stretch of the Nickel Plate Trail. The city’s portion  is a 2.7-mile multi-use trail partially funded by a $3.1 million Next Level Trails grant.

When completed, the entire Nickel Plate Trail will be 17.8 miles and 12-feet wide. The DNR stated it will stretch from the Indiana State Fairgrounds to downtown Noblesville. The Next Level Trails grant program has invested more than $12 million along the Nickel Plate corridor through Indianapolis, Fishers and Noblesville, according to the DNR.

The trail extends from 146th Street to Pleasant Street near downtown Noblesville, and the trail also connects to the existing Nickel Plate Trail in Fishers, the DNR stated. When completed, the trail will connect to the Midland Trace Trail, which connects Noblesville to Westfield.

“These projects were really called quality-of-life projects,” Mayor Chris Jensen said during the ribbon-cutting ceremony. “I always joke and say now they’re just called trails, and people expect them in our communities, but they don’t happen overnight, and they don’t happen without incredible partners.”

Jensen said the trail path was formerly a railroad line. Conversations about turning it into a trail began about five years ago.

“I think anytime you can put an investment like this that truly enhances the quality of life for our community, it’s incredibly fulfilling,” Jensen said.

He said the trail should attract customers to small businesses in downtown as people pass by on the trail. He said the trail will also allow some residents to walk to work.

The map of the Nickel Plate Trail. (Photo courtesy of the City of Noblesville)

Noblesville resident Kathy Hines, 72, attended the ceremony with her husband, Jim. She lives near the trail and said it will be a tremendous asset to the community. She said she appreciates the work that has gone into it.

Dan Bortner, director of the Indiana DNR, said the Next Levels Trails grant is awarded to trails that connect communities. He said connectivity is important because it gives Hoosiers the ability to get out and enjoy what belongs to them by their birthright.

“(It’s) great progress for making historic connections,” Bortner said, “both between communities and the people who call them home.”

Bortner said Gov. Eric Holcomb and the Indiana General Assembly have awarded $150 million in estate investment to Next Level Trails, which he said is a program that funds 28 new trail projects and 12 that are under construction.

“This is amazing,” Bortner said. “This is exactly what this program is designed to do. I mean, just the idea, just the plan here, you’re going to be able to get on a trail and go from Noblesville to the (Indiana) State Fairgrounds. Imagine what that’s going to do for Hoosiers and quality of life.”

Noblesville’s stretch of the Nickel Plate Trail opened Oct. 26. (Photo by Elissa Maudlin)

The Next Level Trails Grant

Next Level Trails grants are administered through the Indiana Department of Natural Resources. They are part of Gov. Eric Holcomb’s Next Level Connections infrastructure program, according to the DNR.

Next Level Trails is designed to help areas collaborate to accelerate trail connections. It invests $180 million toward regionally and locally significant trails throughout Indiana. Next Level Connections is “the largest infusion of trails funding in state history,” according to the DNR.

The grant program is only available to local units of government or nonprofit organizations. People can submit one application per round. Consideration is given to multi-use trails, but all non-motorized trails can apply. Grant requests require a 20 percent match, but consideration is given to projects that exceed the 20 percent match.

For more, visit in.gov/dnr/state-parks/recreation/grants/next-level-trails/.

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