Trails in Indiana


Recently, on a cool rainy November day, members of the Hoosier Rails to Trails Council (HRTC) took a short walk from our office in the historic Stutz Building in downtown Indianapolis to the Indiana Historical Society about a mile away to deliver some forms. Our trip took us the route of the north end of the South Canal Towpath, a walkway which extends along the old canal and connects people to venues including the Indiana Historical Society building and NCAA Headquarters and then ties into the White River State Park.

In the back of our minds, though, was another subject, which was and is why three short steps were built between a large plaza area and the canal towpath. The plaza lies immediately north of the USS Indianapolis Memorial and south of the St Claire Street parking lot, and is accessible by a ramp.  Although the ramp extends about 150 feet with flat rest areas, and could serve as an ingress/egress for handicapped persons wanting to use the  canal – it ends in three steps! These steps have already deteriorated to the point that they cry out for repair. Why not a short ramp in place of the steps?     

Also, no other walking approach existing in the area could possibly prove useful by anyone with a wheelchair-bound handicap.

Armed with righteous indignation, we set our sights on seeing about getting this situation fixed. 

With Shirley Temple frowns we compiled a list of all the governmental sources we thought might influence getting handicapped/wheelchair access to the canal that we could.
We would petition to get this changed.

The Canal Towpath sets just west of the White River State Park and it appeared to us that the City of Indianapolis would have jurisdiction over this area. In our efforts in trying to get some more information about the problem we called Julie Paini, Disability Coordinator for the City of Indianapolis

Although she was away from her office, we left a vague message expressing some concerns and would she kindly find the time to call us back .

Call us back she did, with an eye opener: the City already had planned a solution to the lack of disabled, elderly, wheelchair useable access to the Canal!

Julie revealed that the current renovation and restoration (of the crumbling stone and concrete on the walkways and bridges along the canal walk) will include plans for a new ADA compliant ramp for easy attainment to the area.

Further, Julie promised us a call back.

When we get more particulars on the project and note it’s progress, we’ll keep you posted.

By Mario Vian