Inspiration struck Brian Payne in 2001 while he was walking the Monon Trail.
He remembered a conversation in which city officials lamented that downtown streets were too wide and cars moved too fast to allow much of a pedestrian connection town's top attractions. between down- His brainstorm: Eliminate lanes of traffic and build a path-creating an amenity that could become a destination in itself.
Payne, president of the Central Indiana Community Foundation, began telling everyone he knew about the idea. And five years later, his vision is the Indianapolis Cultural Trail, a greenways project that has drawn interest from all over the world.
The $50 million, 7.5-mile pedestrianand-bike path will wind its way through downtown Indianapolis using existing streets and rights-of-way and feature attractive landscaping and public art.
The trail will link downtown's five cultural districts-Mass Ave, Indiana Avenue, White River State Park, the Wholesale District and Fountain Square. And it will hit the new library, IUPUI and City Market and connect to the southern end of the Monon. Construction is set to begin in March.
Payne sold Mayor Bart Peterson on the project and forged partnerships with the NCAA, Indianapolis Convention & Visitors Association and White River State Park.
Already, the groups have raised $34 million for the trail, including $15 million in federal transportation funds and $15 million from local philanthropists Gene and Marilyn Glick, whose gift led to the project's official name: Indianapolis Cultural Trail: A Legacy of Gene & Marilyn Glick.
It will be as much a legacy of Payne, an Indianapolis resident since 1993. Payne's passion for the project and his enthusiastic sales pitch convinced plenty of skeptics.
"This is a community that always wants to make itself better and is willing to work to make it happen," said Payne, 47.