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.”