$29.5M to transform outdated rail traces into Indiana’s longest leisure path, beginning in New Albany | Information


LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – Indiana’s governor wants to “preserve a piece of Hoosier history” by developing the state’s longest contiguous recreational trail, spanning five southern counties.

During his state of the state address from the Indianapolis capital on Tuesday, Gov. Eric Holcomb announced that the state Department of Natural Resources is awarding $29.5 million to acquire and build the 62.3-mile Monon South Trail will.

“Indiana continues to break new ground in conservation and outdoor recreation – and today we are excited to announce that we are embarking on our longest journey yet, connecting communities throughout southern Indiana,” said Holcomb. “The Monon South Trail will preserve a piece of our Hoosier history and enhance the quality of places in our rural communities.”

The trail follows the route of the historic Monon Railroad, beginning in New Albany and stretching across five southern Indiana counties: Floyd, Clark, Washington, Orange and Lawrence, the DNR said in a news release.

The Monon South Trail will be 62.3 miles long and will cover five counties in southern Indiana. (Indiana Department of Natural Resources map)

The railroad passes through several communities including Borden, New Pekin, Salem, Campbellsburg, Saltillo, Orleans and Mitchell. About 440,000 people live within 10 miles of the trail, according to the DNR.

Officials said the trail’s corridor “follows a road survey commissioned by the Indiana Internal Improvements Act of 1836,” followed by approval by the Indiana General Assembly of 1847 to build a private railroad along the route. Then-Gov. James Whitcomb signed a proclamation mapping the New Albany and Salem Railroad, officials said. The railroad was built from the southern Indiana city to Michigan City in 1854 and took its “iconic name” Monon Railroad in 1956, according to the DNR.

CSXT “last operated trains on this stretch of line in 2008” before being abandoned in 2018.

New Albany and Salem Railroad Historical Marker-Indiana Historical Bureau.jpg

A historic marker for the New Albany and Salem Railroad (The Monon) at the corner of Bank Street and Culbertson Avenue in downtown New Albany. (Indiana Historical Bureau photo)

The DNR conducted acquisition negotiations with CSX Transportation as part of the state’s Next Level Trails initiative. Through a process called “railbanking,” the City of New Albany and Radius Indiana “requested to negotiate with CSXT to acquire the defunct rail corridor” for recreational use as a trail.

According to a press release, Next Level Trails, a $150 million program administered by the DNR, will commit $5.5 million to purchase the corridor on behalf of New Albany and Radius Indiana.

“Through the development of the Monon South Trail, we are transforming the historic railroad economy into a forward-thinking trail economy engine that will help us attract new talent and businesses to the state,” said Jeff Quyle, President and CEO of Radius Indiana. said in a press release.

Additionally, New Albany will “own and manage” the portion of the trail that runs through Floyd County, while Radius Indiana will assume responsibility for the remaining four counties.

New Albany Mayor Jeff Gahan said the city will begin construction of its portion of the trail this year.

“So it’s not going to happen overnight, but it serves as this big, regional project that we can all get behind, all the castles and ‘villas’ and counties that we can get behind and really make it special,” he said Gahan.

The city and Radius Indiana will receive an additional $24 million in funding from Next Level Trails to begin planning, engineering and construction of portions of the trail to “advance trail development,” the DNR said.

“It continues to be an exciting time to live in New Albany. The new Monon South Trail brings new connections to our river city and to our neighbors throughout the region,” said Gahan.

To learn more about Next Level Trails, its projects and updates, click here.

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