Lilly Endowment gives $25M grant to expand city trails, greenways

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Indianapolis’ bike and pedestrian routes are getting a $25 million boost from Lilly Endowment Inc.

The Central Indiana Community Foundation on Tuesday announced the grant, which is meant to support the six-year-old Connected Communities Initiative collaboration with the city of Indianapolis.

“Indianapolis spans a large land area, which can make it challenging to navigate for residents who are dependent on alternatives to cars,” said Ronni Kloth, Lilly Endowment’s vice president for community development, in a written statement. “We are pleased to support the Connected Communities Initiative, which will provide residents with greater access to trails, greenways and other destinations and foster stronger connections between neighborhoods.”

The grant will fund planning, design, construction for on- and off-street infrastructure, according to city officials. That includes more than five miles of the west side’s B&O Trail, protected bike lanes downtown, infrastructure in Martindale-Brightwood and more. Some of the money will also go to neighborhood engagement efforts.

The grant also includes $5.25 million in matching funds that can be used to attract an additional $18.75 million in state and federal dollars to construct an additional 25 miles of new greenways.

The initiative prioritizes investment in areas that lack such infrastructure and have greater concentrations of residents who lack cars, are disabled, are low-income and more.

“This investment will help close gaps to increase equitable access to job opportunities, education, health care, healthy food, recreation, and social and cultural destinations for previously under-appreciated neighborhoods,” said Brian Payne, president and CEO of CICF and president of CICF affiliate The Indianapolis Foundation.

Lilly’s grant comes several months after Mayor Joe Hogsett’s administration dedicated its own $25 million in bonds to the design and some construction of several other bike and pedestrian projects around the city.

“Today’s announcement leverages the city’s historic greenway investments over the past six years, especially the $25 million boost through our Circle City Forward initiative,” Hogsett said. “With support from Lilly Endowment, the city is excited to partner with CICF to combine public, private and philanthropic support to expand and enhance pedestrian and bicycle infrastructure throughout Indianapolis.”

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5 thoughts on “Lilly Endowment gives $25M grant to expand city trails, greenways

  1. Pleasant Run Trail renovation is part of the plan. Granted, there is little farther south. However, implementation in the area south of downtown faces greater challenges regarding land/right-of-way assembly and, correspondingly, cost. Trail implementation per a road diet along arterials or collectors may be possible, but these do not present the most pleasant environment for commuter or recreational bikeways. Abandoned railway rights-of-way have been popular choices for trails nationwide; however, availability of such on the south side is limited.

  2. I live on the northeast side in an area with no public green space and almost no connectivity. I sympathize with those who advocate for more trails and greenways on the south side. It should not be an either or situation. Indianapolis does not spend enough on this critical infrastructure, period.