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The widening project was divided into two phases to allow public access in inactive segments throughout the project (see our project website for information about the phases). Construction barricades and project signage are placed at each entrance to closed sections and are not open to the public.
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In 2019, the Zionsville Town Council approved a parks bond to complete the Rail Trail corridor by extensions south from Eagle Creek to Zionsville Road and north from Heritage Trail Park to 400 S. In 2021, the Parks Department was awarded the Next Level Trails grant for $1.8 million to assist with the active extension projects as well as a southern trailhead facility. With this award, the Department and Park Board had the opportunity to evaluate the condition of the existing Rail Trail corridor and begin plans for replacement and improvement.
This widening project has long been part of the Town’s plans for many years and is in fact in the 2018-2022 Parks Master Plan. The study was produced by REA with input from Town administration, Town Council, Parks Board, Parks and Recreation Department, and residents. View the Parks Master Plan (2018-2022) here. This widening will improve the user experience and trail safety as more cyclists, runners, strollers, dogs and pedestrians enjoy our regional trail.
We have shared information about this project in the Town and Parks newsletters, in a postcard to all Zionsville residents, and on our website and social media. We have emailed stakeholders directly, including the schools. To stay updated on this project, follow our project website, sign up for our Parks newsletter and follow us on social media.
Phase 1 of the widening project began in January 2023 and will continue through the spring. Once complete, the segment of the trail will be reopened to the public and phase 2 will begin.
As stewards of our parkland, the Parks and Recreation Department must balance conservation and development with the needs of our growing community. For the Rail Trail widening project, clearing limits are set at the minimum distance to minimize disturbance. Contractors are instructed to only clear materials necessary to allow equipment to operate in an effective manner. This clearing also minimizes future pavement upheaval, increases the longevity of the asphalt and prolongs the need for future disturbance.
While we attempt to minimize disturbance in all projects, the clearing associated with the Rail Trail widening provides an opportunity to address dead and dying hazard trees, removes invasive woody and noxious species and allows the proliferation of native wildflowers and saplings to return.
During phase 1, the Rail Trail will be closed north of Mulberry Street. If a parent or guardian approves, during phase 1 students may use the pathway along Whitestown Road as an alternative route to access PVE.