Trails in Indiana

Deven Lindenberg Explains the First Three Phases of the B&O Trail Planning and Construction

Every project needs a first step and a plan for completion. For the B & O Rail Company that first step was in 1827 when the port of Baltimore, Maryland decided to construct a rail line westward to compete with the Erie Canal waterway for commercial and economic development of the East Coast. Through acquisitions and mergers in the ensuing 150 years, that rail line, named the Baltimore and Ohio, would extend more than a 1000 miles west to St. Louis via Cincinnati, Ohio; and Chicago via Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. A merger of the 1880 Indianapolis, Decatur, and Springfield (Illinois) Railroad with the B & O Railroad in 1927 brought Indianapolis into the B & O system, making the connection just north of Cincinnati, Ohio. 

The B & O Railroad is one of the oldest rail road companies in the United States, and the first in the country to carry commercial goods. Today, active former B & O rail corridors are in the CSX rail network. Because of a decline in rail freight after WWII the 75-mile section of the line running west from Indianapolis to Montezuma, Indiana, a town less than 10 miles from the Illinois-Indiana State line, was abandoned in the years 1989 to 1993.

That abandonment though, was the first step in the vision of Diana and Hall Virgil, energetic bicycle and rail trail advocates, to repurpose the rail corridor into a pedestrian and bicycle transportation and recreation trail. Just a year later, Hendricks County Trail Development, Inc. (HCTDA) joined with the future B & O Trail Association, Inc. (BOTA) to develop the trail. Funding and legal issues delayed the actual construction of the trail for several years.

But that’s where the plan comes into play. Or rather two plans. Beverly Katterhenry of the Speedway Trails Association, Inc. is developing the eastern section of the abandoned B & O rail corridor beginning at the Marion-Hendricks County line at Raceway Road and running east through Speedway, Indiana. She is developing her rail-trail plan in concert with the redevelopment of Main Street in downtown Speedway.

Diana Virgil and the B & O Trail Association’s Plan begins at the same county line but runs westerly into Hendricks County. Storrow Kinsella & Associates (SKA), an Indianapolis Landscape Architecture and Planning firm was hired to design and complete construction drawings for the trail, and in particular, Phase One. In this video, SKA Project Manager Deven Lindenberg, explains the importance of design details in the first phase of the project. “Getting it right” in the design of site furnishings including paving materials, signage, and logos, even choice of font, size and color sets the feel, character and experience of trail users from the beginning of the project throughout all of its construction phases. And while every trail has typical trail features such as benches and signs, each one also offers the designer a unique set of challenges. They include addressing universal access for people with disabilities (ADA) and other safety, transportation and environmental issues. Deven describes a unique safety feature designed and included in the site furnishings along this suburban (not urban or rural) trail.

Although the first step of this rail trail was only 1,000 feet, Phase Two, finished in 2011 extended the trail westward three more miles. Another two miles, with expected funding in 2013-2014 will be constructed in Phase Three, running west from State Road 267. Although it has been almost twenty years the steps taken by BOTA together with the plan by SKA will ensure the functional use of this corridor to continue well into the next century.

Article by Tina jones