Indianapolis Cultural Trail Kicks Off Biggest Year of Construction Yet
March 4, 2011 – After decades of disconnection from downtown, first by railroads then interstates, the Indianapolis Cultural Trail: A Legacy of Gene & Marilyn Glick will soon connect users to Fletcher Place, Holy Rosary and Fountain Square neighborhoods and merchants.
This afternoon, Mayor Greg Ballard helped lead a ceremony celebrating the kick-off to the Cultural Trail’s biggest construction season so far. Nearly four miles of the uniquely designed eight-mile bicycle and pedestrian path will be built in 2011, connecting not only Fountain Square but also Washington Street, White River State Park and the IUPUI campus.
“Creating opportunities for our residents to bike and walk around our city helps increase connectivity between our neighborhoods,” said Mayor Ballard. “Once the half-mile greenways connection from Fountain Square to the Pleasant Run Trail is completed, you will be able to ride a bicycle on the Monon Trail from Westfield, 15 miles north of Indianapolis, through downtown on the Cultural Trail to Pleasant Run Trail and Garfield Park without ever being on the road. This level of connectivity will transform the way we live, work and play in Indianapolis and surrounding communities.”
Local residents have been very involved and supportive of the project. “This area has always been a wonderful place to live. Now it's becoming known as a great place to shop, eat or enjoy fantastic art,” said local Fletcher Place resident Bill Lovejoy. “As a resident I'm excited that the Indianapolis Cultural Trail will connect our neighborhoods with the rest of the city, so that others can explore the area easily and learn what we already know about this amazing part of Indianapolis.”
NEW FUNCTIONAL PUBLIC ART
Central Indiana Community Foundation (CICF) President and Cultural Trail founder Brian Payne emceed today’s event and honored the latest addition of public art to the Cultural Trail’s growing collection. “Moving Forward,” by Indianapolis-based architect Donna Sink, is a series of three custom-designed eco-friendly bus shelters that will showcase original poetry by published writers. The shelters will be located along the Indianapolis Cultural Trail on the south side of Virginia Avenue near Lexington Street, McCarty Street and Woodlawn Avenue along IndyGo bus routes 12, 14 and 22. Each shelter will be comprised of ecoresin panels, which are made using 40 percent post-industrial re-grind content, mounted in a stainless steel frame. The shelters will be installed on TX Active photocatalytic cement pads. These pads will be self-cleaning and will help reduce many pollutants deemed harmful to human health and the environment.
The Writers’ Center of Indiana managed a selection process that began with a call for poets who either live in Indiana or have ties to Indiana and who have been previously published. Submitted poems had to have a thematic connection to the Indianapolis Cultural Trail and the “Moving Forward” public art project. John Sherman, an Indianapolis-based poet, read his winning poem “The Bowl of Possible Peas” to open today’s ceremony. Payne also introduced the other local poets and their poems: “Invisible Movements” by Karen Kovacik and “The Painters” by Richard Pflum.
SPURRING ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT
Fountain Square Merchant Association President Craig Von Deylen, owner and developer of the Murphy Art Center and a $9 million development planned for the southwest corner of Virginia Avenue and McCarty Street, spoke about the impact the project is already having in the area. “The Cultural Trail will be an effective connection between Fountain Square and the center of Indianapolis and will allow pedestrian and bicycle access to the already established arts, entertainment and cultural activity that has been occurring here in Fountain Square. Being able to access that traffic has driven our decisions to locate many projects along the future trail.”
Eli Lilly and Company gave $1 million to the Cultural Trail and it is planning a $1 million expansion into its campus off South Street. Lilly CEO Dr. John Lechleiter is one of the biggest advocates and funders of the Cultural Trail because of its power to help recruit and retain top research scientists and executives to Lilly.
“The perception of Indianapolis and its quality of life is vital to Lilly’s efforts to recruit and retain world-class research talent. While Indianapolis already has many amenities to attract talent, I believe we must continue to strive for a dynamic national reputation if our city is going to successfully compete among other life-science hubs throughout the world including Shanghai, Copenhagen, and Delhi. It has been my experience that those cities are constantly raising the bar to attract global talent. We in Indianapolis must do the same," said Lechleiter. “Today’s knowledge worker demands distinctive natural, recreational, cultural and lifestyle amenities when selecting a place to live, work, and play. The Cultural Trail connects all of these demands in a way that no other city has done – which will allow Indianapolis to stand apart from the other cities. We at Lilly believe the Cultural Trail creates a unique 21st Century quality of life experience that will attract international attention."
Other destinations connected by the Cultural Trail agree. "The beautiful vision and interconnectivity of the Cultural Trail will bring international attention to Indianapolis, and the Conrad is very honored to be a landmark upon the Trail. This new amenity truly fuses an art and wellness initiative that I am so thrilled for our guests from all over the world to be able to enjoy," said Greg Tinsley, general manager of Conrad Indianapolis.
According to a 2009 economic development study, the Indianapolis Cultural Trail will create more than 11,000 jobs and the economic benefits attributable to the Cultural Trail will exceed $863 million. This is based on a study conducted by the Indiana University Center for Urban Policy and the Environment and calculates investments from expected increase in downtown residential and commercial ownership, attraction of creative-class talent, and increases in tourism and convention stays.
This study was used in the successful grant proposal that awarded $20.5 million to the Cultural Trail from the Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) program administered by the U.S. Department of Transportation. Nearly 1,400 other proposals totaling more than $57 billion in requests from around the U.S. were submitted for $1.5 billion in available transportation funding. The Cultural Trail was one of 51 proposals awarded and one of only two trail projects in the country to receive funding.
“There is no other trail project in the world that both connects you directly to a city’s most desirable destinations while also making the journey a beautiful, inspiring experience,” said Payne. “The Indianapolis Cultural Trail has catapulted Indianapolis into the global consciousness as a leader in urban trail design, transportation infrastructure and as one of the most livable communities in the country.”
The Cultural Trail is built in seven corridor phases. The Southeast Corridor (on Virginia Avenue from Washington Street to Prospect Street) began construction this week at Washington Street and Virginia Avenue. The contract to construct the 1-mile Southeast Corridor was awarded to Hunt Paving Company for $7.9 million. Sunesis Construction was awarded the contract for the Central Corridor (Washington Street from Alabama Street to West Street) for $5.2 million, and construction will begin soon. The West Corridor (Blackford Street from Indiana Avenue to White River State Park) will be bid on March 9.
To date, $63 million has been raised to complete the eight-mile bicycle and pedestrian project that connects the five downtown cultural districts and greenway trails.
More information about the Indianapolis Cultural Trail and its construction schedule is available on its website, www.IndyCulturalTrail.org.
The Indianapolis Cultural Trail: A Legacy of Gene & Marilyn Glick is a world-class urban bike and pedestrian path that connects neighborhoods, Cultural Districts and entertainment amenities, and serves as the downtown hub for the entire central Indiana greenway system.