Thursday, July 17, 2008

Reviving The Call For A Greenway

The Indianapolis Metropolitan Planning Organization is bent for leather to build a light rail starter on the old Nickel Plate rail corridor, which runs northeasterly from Indianapolis to Castleton, Fishers, and Noblesville, roughly parallel to Allisonville Road. It is the trackage that the annual Fair Train runs on, from the Fishers station to the Fairgrounds.

I have long maintained that this isn't even the best possible use for the corridor. Make it a greenway, like the Monon.

You'll note that nobody is clamoring to re-track the Monon. Why is that?

Well, it runs through Carmel, for one thing. Wouldn't want to upset their apple cart. After all, they have enjoyed a significant boost to their property values thanks to the Monon Trail. There are other benefits that light rail cannot provide: The greenway encourages a healthy lifestyle. People actually use it. It gobbles far fewer tax dollars to create than a light rail line will.

I can't help but believe there are politically connected contractors waiting in the wings, hoping this light rail boondoggle gets built on the Nickel Plate. There is a lot of money to be made in restoring and improving the trackage, supplying locomotives and passenger cars, building fences, landscaping, etc.

I know that the price of gasoline has pinched everyone. It hurts. But let's not throw good money after bad. Most people aren't going to ride the rails, despite chatter to the contrary. It's only one line, and is unlikely to take the rider to their ultimate destination. Congestion on I-69 isn't very heavy at all. (Drive in Chicago, for comparison.) Parking downtown is plentiful and cheap.

Build the Nickel Plate Greenway!

Comment can be posted to the MPO.

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