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Federal board OKs plans to build trail along rails in Fishers, Noblesville

WASHINGTON (WISH) - A federal board Thursday gave its permission for Hamilton County authorities to build a recreation trail along a railroad line in Fishers and Noblesville.

Fishers, Noblesville and Hamilton County authorities on Aug. 1, 2017, asked the federal Surface Transportation Board for its permission to build a 9-mile recreation trail beside the rail line from 96th Street north to Noblesville's Pleasant Street. The Fishers mayor had put a ballpark figure of $9.3 million on the Nickel Plate Trail's construction.

Fishers and Noblesville officials first secured the 37-1/2-mile rail line running from downtown Indianapolis to Tipton in 1995 from Norfolk and Western Railway Co. Municipal officials bought the rail line in hopes of one day using it as a trail or transit route. 

From 1983 to 2016, the rail line was well-known as the route of the Fair Train during the Indiana State Fair. The Indiana Transportation Museum, based in Noblesville's Forest Park, had also operated its Polar Bear Express and other short excursions on the line for many years. 

According to the board's decision, the proposal was opposed by the Indiana Transportation Museum and Logansport Mayor Dave Kitchell. Kitchell has been working to make his Cass County city the next home of the train museum. 

U.S. Reps. Jim Banks and Trey Hollingsworth had backed the project.

U.S. Rep. Susan Brooks and U.S. Sen. Todd Young had asked the board to make an expedited decision on the proposal. 

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