Fishers picks Meyer Najem to build Nickel Plate downtown trailhead

Fishers-based Meyer Najem Construction LLC has secured a $3.3 million contract with the city of Fishers to build the Nickel Plate Trail’s downtown plaza.

The city issued a request for proposals last May for developers interested in building a portion of its 5.5-mile Nickel Plate Trail, from approximately South Street to North Street. Last week, the Fishers Board of Public Works approved Meyer Najem’s bid to build a 600-foot stretch from 116th Street to North Street.

Meyer Najem has already started work on the $8.4 million southern approach to the downtown that includes a tunnel under 116th Street. The entire downtown trailhead is scheduled for completion by March 2022.

“We’ve focused a lot on the experience side of it, and we really want the user to know they’re in the downtown portion of the trail,” said Sarah Sandquist, director of Fishers’ parks and recreation department.

Work on the former rail corridor between 96th Street and 146th Street began in earnest last spring. The project, which was originally pitched with a $9 million estimated price tag, has seen the estimated cost grow to more than $15 million.

City spokeswoman Ashley Elrod said it costs roughly $1 million alone to pave a mile of the trail, and the total project budget has grown as elements from the trail’s master plan have been incorporated into the final design. She said the entirety of the trail won’t be completed until 2040, but there are lot of benchmarks between now and then.

The trail’s northernmost stretch between 106th and 131st streets, excluding the portion that runs through the downtown, is now substantially complete. Jason Taylor, Fishers’ city engineer, said the $3.6 million segment was originally expected to stop at 126th street, but it has since been extended to 131st Street. He expects that segment to come in under-budget by at least $400,000.

Meyer Najem started its work on the southern approach to the 116th Street tunnel in October. City officials are planning to close 116th Street in June and July to complete work on that approach and tunnel while school is out. The project should be completed by the year’s end.

The latest contract awarded for the northern approach to 116th Street includes the buildout for a gathering area in the downtown, as well as a pedestrian trail along 116th Street that will further connect the trail to the municipal plaza and surrounding businesses. Additional amenities within that trailhead include decorative lighting elements, swings on a pre-existing train platform and a variety of seating options, including Adirondack chairs and seating for those with disabilities.

Taylor said preliminary work will begin on that section in the spring, but the stretch likely won’t be finished for another two years due to adjacent construction projects.

Browning Investments’ $157 million mixed-use project is currently being built next to the trail, on both the northern and southern sides of 116th Street.

“The original plan was to do the traditional bidding process for this type of project and have the construction under way in the summer of 2020. Overall, the end time frame is similar to what we discussed previously, although our work is behind from what we earlier discussed,” Taylor said.

Though no portion of the trail is technically open, residents have already started incorporating it into their exercise routines.

“We’ve seen a lot of interest in the trail, and now that we have these paved portions, we’ve seen a lot of users on it,” Sandquist said. “The trail is still closed, officially, but we do hope to open the paved portions of it this spring.”

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8 thoughts on “Fishers picks Meyer Najem to build Nickel Plate downtown trailhead

  1. Thought experiment or whatever: Why do these suburban trail crossings need tunnels or bridges, rather than just making the street safe to cross? Could you imagine the Cultural Trail in downtown Indy ever needing to have a tunnel built to cross a street? I don’t think it was the best long-term decision, but I can understand why a bridge was just built over 38th Street for the Monon given the current design of 38th Street. But 116th Street through downtown Fishers always struck me as a fairly narrow street with low speed limit that wouldn’t be hard to cross with a signal and good at-grade crossing design. A tunnel seems to contradict the urban approach they have been taking in the Fishers downtown in the last 6-8 years and would discourage pedestrian traffic from visiting the shops on 116th St. It’ll also be disappointing if they make it super inconvenient for people not on the trail to cross 116th St by trying to force them out of their way to however far away the tunnel entrance is located.

    1. I was once crossing at the crosswalk with the crossing signal at 116/Municipal Drive and was repeatedly cut off by two drivers. I don’t think I-69’s location helps. People get off the interstate in a high speed mindset and continue that mindset on 116th.

    2. It’s not just I-69…it’s 116th street. People coming from Olio (pronounced Oh-Lee-Oh and the word is known to some crossword buffs) seem to use 116th as a long drag strip where they can go as fast as they can to save time..and if they go fast enough, long enough, they can travel backwards in time and reach their destination before they left Olio. If they just tuned their radio to “Classic Vinyl” (#26) on SiriusXM and set their cruise control to the 40 mph on 116th, they’d discover they get to the railroad about 30 seconds after those with lead feet.

  2. Interesting article, but a few issues with it —

    Wasn’t the original $9 million budget for the trail for both Noblesville and Fishers. The Fishers section was actually projected to be under $5 million when the city was selling this to the citizens. If you go back and look at the numbers used to justify getting rid of the rails, you’ll likely find them a lot lower than what is indicated in this article.

    There is a statement of being under budget by $400,000 on part of the trail. What budget? Is there a budget for this trail posted somewhere that is accessible to the public? Many have asked for such a budget. It would be great to see a budget that lines up with the “Master plan” that the City of Fishers has posted.

    Am I reading correctly – this new contract is for $3.3 million to do 600 feet of trail? That’s $5,500 for a foot of trail? You could gold plate the trial for that price.

    So where is the budget for this trail?

    1. Budget? Budget? There is no budget. Every time that question has been asked we’ve been told that it isn’t finalized or some other non-answer. Basically their way of telling taxpayers that we don’t deserve to know how much money they’re planning to suck out of our pockets to pay for this boondoggle. By the time they tell us how much they’re going to spend (and I’ll be shocked if they even stick to it – see the SR37 project that is $42 million over budget in its first phase), the prices will increase and they’ll just pay it, because Burgermeister Meisterburger wants what he wants and doesn’t care how much debt he puts the city in or how much he taps the citizens for. If it comes in below $30 million I’ll be shocked. And that’s for the trail from the north side of 96th to the south side of 146th. We’ll get socked for more to build bridges or tunnels or whatever to hook the Fishers portion to nowhere (since neither Noblesville or Indy have committed to actually building the trail).

  3. Correct, the sales pitch to the public was $4.5million from fishers and $4.5mil from Noblesville to complete the trail from 96thSt to pleasant st. in Noblesville, or basically $1mil/mile. Those numbers were used to justify with the public that the rails were “un-safe” it would be too expensive to make the railroad “safe”. The city stated it would cost $5mil. This is false, $5mil was an estimate to up-grade the entire length of the track from the State Fair Grounds to Tipton, roughly 35 miles. By the way Noblesville and Indianaplois have no official plans, estimates or budgets to do anything with their portions of the trail in the foreseeable future. 4.5mi trail to nowhere for what will probably end up costing $40mil!!! (we don’t know bc there is no estimate to date). The real kicker here…under the federal rail-banking program Fishers used to remove the rails, it is agreed upon that at anytime a valid rail company demonstrates they have viable freight customers that need that rail service and funding to construct the railroad, the trail must be removed. While unlikely, it is a possibility. Outrageous criminal activity like this has to stop!

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