With the recent acquisition on Feb. 16 of the final easement needed for the Big-4 Rail Trail northern expansion, construction is expected to begin in the spring.
Zionsville is extending the Big-4 Rail Trail in two directions: south to Zionsville Road and north from Heritage Trail Park to the common boundary with Whitestown.
Plans for the expansion began in 1992 with a goal of creating a safe recreation corridor through the heart of town. According to former Zionsville Parks & Recreation Board attorney Roger Burrus, turning the former railroad corridor into a trail was the idea of a group of local middle school students. The class presented the idea to the parks board and the board members later introduced the idea to the Zionsville Town Council.
With the acquisition now complete, the parks department will now bid out this spring the widening of the Rail Trail, along with the installation of the southern trailhead and the northern expansion project.
“This project will widen the existing Rail Trail and extend it to the Whitestown/Zionsville border, at which point we will pass the baton for Whitestown to complete their segment and connect Zionsville to the rest of the 28-mile Rail Trail corridor through Boone County. This is an exciting time for all of Boone County,” Parks Supt. Jarod Logsdon stated in a press release.
Steady progress has been made in recent years, specifically on the southern portion of the Rail Trail. Replacing the Starkey Avenue bridge is expected to be complete later this year, along with the paving and widening of the southern portion of the Rail Trail, which will lead into the future Overley-Worman Park. A trailhead will also be added to Zionsville Road.
Last year, the town was awarded a $1.8 million grant that will assist with obtaining parcels of land along the rail corridor with the intention of clearing brush and debris and building a 12-foot wide-paved, shared-use trail.
“This is a monumental moment for our town,” Zionsville Mayor Emily Styron stated. “Decades of planning, advocating and work undertaken by our Parks Board, staff and Town of Zionsville leadership has led to (the) achievement. The Rail Trail forms the central spine of Zionsville’s 20-plus-mile trail system and is an asset that benefits us in terms of health and wellness, the local economy and environmental stewardship.”