NEW ALBANY — The New Albany Redevelopment Commission approved by a 4-1 vote Tuesday for Faegre Baker Daniels (FBD) to assist with advancing the Rails to Trails project.
“This Rails to Trails development is an exciting possibility for the city of New Albany, and we are working with partners throughout the state on making it a reality,” New Albany Mayor Mayor Jeff Gahan said in a news release. “Trails like these improve the quality of life for all citizens, and we are thrilled at the prospect of a north-south nature trail connection to the New Albany Greenway. Trails are key economic revitalization tools for cities and towns, as well as tourist destinations for health and nature-minded tourists.”
The Rails to Trails project would convert an old, abandoned CSX route that runs through 63 miles of some of Southern Indiana’s most scenic and natural landscapes into a recreation trail. The trail begins just north of the new Sazerac facility (at the former Pillsbury Plant) and ends near Bedford.
“I can’t see anything but benefits for New Albany by us taking the initiative on this project,” Irv Joshua, president of the Redevelopment Commission, said in the release. “It's something that Mayor Gahan saw an opportunity for and was able to take the initiative to lead the project. The Rails to Trails project will bring more people and recognition to our city, and we stand to benefit greatly.”
Over the past year, city officials have worked quickly to advance the Rails to Trails project. The city began in December 2017 by filing necessary paperwork securing the right to acquire the corridor under the Trails Act. The city then began developing a working relationship with the Indiana Department of Natural Resources, who now supports the trail development. Gahan has met with the majority of the towns and counties on the CSX line, and has received unanimous support for a trail.
Gov. Holcomb announced on Sept. 6 the availability of $90 million worth of funds to support trails in Indiana.
FBD will now assist by completing negotiations with CSX to determine a final cost of the corridor, prepare an initial development plan and funding strategy, along with an application to the State of Indiana for funding of the corridor acquisition.