SALEM, Ind. (Feb. 2, 2024) — Leaders from southern Indiana gathered at the first “Monon South Annual Report to the Communities” hosted by Radius Indiana to learn about the latest developments in the creation of the Monon South Trail, slated to span nearly 60 miles through Lawrence, Orange, Washington, and Clark counties.
Through the state’s Next Level Trails program, the Indiana Department of Natural Resources awarded $23.4 million to Radius Indiana, the region’s economic development partnership, to facilitate the purchase and trail creation of a railbanked CSX railway corridor. Along with additional funding from the READI program, the design and initial construction of phase 1 of the trail began in 2023.
As part of the Annual Report, Jeff Quyle, president and CEO of Radius, shared information on the projects and programs already in progress. To date, existing rail and crossties have been removed, road crossings have been improved, and the rail bed is being prepared for trail construction.
“We have seen a lot of progress during the first year of development for the Monon South and we are actively pursuing additional grant funding for phases 2 and 3,” said Quyle. “The engagement of our local leaders has been vital to our success, and this first report to the communities is a way to ensure that those leaders, who are our partners, supporters, and owners of this monumental project, continue to be involved and informed.”
Several initiatives to engage the communities along the trail are also underway. Cities and towns will be invited to participate in public art programs, which will add local touches to the trail corridor, and hundreds of residents have attended public meetings to give input on the design, location of trailheads, amenities, and sustainability of the trail.
In addition, Radius partnered with the Eppley Institute for Parks and Public Land at Indiana University to develop park master plans to enhance and strengthen each community’s connectivity and engagement with the Monon South. In fall 2023, Radius launched a crowdfunding campaign, securing $50,000 to restore a historic boxcar located near the future trail in downtown Salem. And coming in 2024, Radius will work with downtowns connected to the trail to create the state’s first regional Mainstreet Program to encourage downtown revitalization and open opportunities for state funding and assistance.
Ryan Hughes from Clark Dietz, the lead civil engineering firm, and Ron Taylor from Taylor Seifker Williams Design Group, the trail’s design firm, gave a behind-the-scenes look at the Monon South’s infrastructure design, construction, and master planning efforts. Attendees had the first look at the initial design concepts for trailhead structures, bike and pedestrian rest stops, restrooms, and other amenities planned along the trail.
Orleans Clerk-Treasurer and Executive Director of the Orleans Chamber of Commerce Robert Henderson was in attendance and has been following the Monon South from its inception, “I am excited about all of the energy and effort being put in along the corridor. This event really showed all of the thought and detail that has gone into the work, and I appreciate Radius putting together this forum to allow us to stay up-to-date and engaged. I was interested to learn more about future funding and grant opportunities that will help bring the trail to life,” he added.
Radius plans to hold this event each year to share construction progress and new community developments for the Monon South. To learn more, visit www.mononsouth.com and follow Monon South Trail on Facebook.
ABOUT RADIUS INDIANA: Radius Indiana is a regional economic development partnership representing eight counties in Southern Indiana: Crawford, Daviess, Dubois, Greene, Lawrence, Martin, Orange, and Washington. Formed in 2009, Radius Indiana also serves as a point of contact in Indiana for Naval Support Activity Crane and leads regional collaboration by leveraging the diverse assets of the region to drive attraction, retention, and expansion of business, thereby increasing employment and investment opportunities and quality of life within the region.