Within the past couple weeks, the Fishers Nickel Plate District Trail Project has reappeared on my radar. I first saw the news story when it broke in the Indianapolis Business Journal last year in November. I recently came in contact with it again when I spoke with the person who works for the company responsible for the unique pavement techniques used in the project. Once I saw some of the pictures, I had to take a look myself.
Overall, the project looks wonderfully crafted but seems relatively unjustified. The circular town center was barren and I saw no one the entire time I was out there. The main structures along the trail were large government buildings that gave little to attract people to the circle and are used mostly during the weekdays. As I could tell from the renderings released last year, it seems like the town of Fishers is trying to make a physical connection between the town circle and new amphitheater space to the commercial areas of 116th Street.
There were some design errors or design oversights that I thought made it look a bit weird. In my opinion, the area right in front of the town hall has competing pavements with the red brick and concrete banding intersecting the faux-railroad pavement pattern in the multi-use path. The interesting thing about this design dilemma is that it would have looked much more put-together if they would have removed the red brick and concrete banding when they did the trail project and extended the faux-rail pattern into the barren plaza space. It would have made the rail/trail design look as if it has arrived at the “station” (town hall).
Another issue that I found was where I found these great “Nickel Plate District” medallions. The piece itself is wonderfully designed and crafted, but the few that were installed felt relatively unplanned. Some of the medallions landed mid way between two walkways, which made sense to me. Some of the others landed at the intersection point of the trail with another walkway. The one pictured below drove me nearly insane when I saw that the medallion wasn’t directly in the center of the secondary walkway.
In the image above, you can see an example of what the crosswalks for this urban design plan looks like. a double band of black with perpendicular bands of dark and light reds. It looks neat, but in the grand scope of things, there are a lot of competing colors and patterns. We have blue, yellow, green and white in the medallions, we have creme, dark red and black on the trail surface and different reds and blacks on the cross walks. Simple editing or tweaking of the designs could have kept these from clashing so much.
The addition of the amphitheater space is definitely one of the great points in this project. It will be a great place for the community to get together for outdoor events and will hopefully liven this place up.
In the renderings, it looks as though the town will be adding street trees throughout the town circle, which will be a much welcomed addition also. When I was out there, it was probably 1:00 pm and it was extremely hot and muggy. The lack of trees was extremely evident as I walked around the circle.
Overall, it will be a great new addition to relatively automobile-oriented suburban town. It gives the people of Fishers an additional place to walk and bike and it creates a great connection between the town circle and a portion of the commercial area along 116th Street. Although, I felt that the project has its strong and weak moments, it will definitely add to the quality of life as well as create a more sustainable and viable town center.