2017 TOP STORIES: Nickel Plate to become partial walking, biking trail

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The feud over the future of the Nickel Plate Railroad steamed up this year, as officials from Fishers and Noblesville started pursuing a plan to transform a portion of the railroad into a pedestrian trail.

In February, Fishers Mayor Scott Fadness, Noblesville Mayor John Ditslear and the Hamilton County Board of Commissioners announced plans to convert a 9.2-mile section of the Nickel Plate from Fishers to Noblesville into a paved multi-use path.

Fishers, Noblesville and Hamilton County share ownership of the 37-mile railroad corridor that runs from Tipton to Indianapolis.

The railroad hasn’t had an operator since the Hoosier Heritage Port Authority, the quasi-government agency that oversees the railroad for the owners, terminated its agreement with the Indiana Transportation Museum in March 2016. 

The Port Authority issued a request for proposals for a new operator in April this year, and in July, the owners selected the proposal that would only operate trains on the northern end of the railroad.

The winning response from a newly formed not-for-profit called Nickel Plate Heritage Railroad Inc. would run excursion trains from Atlanta to south of Cicero about 75 days out of the year. 

Nickel Plate Heritage Railroad is in the process of securing funding to restore the tracks—the project could cost $1.2 million. After repairs are made, the group hopes to start offering excursions early next summer.•

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