The Monon Railroad corridor forms the eastern edge of Meridian Kessler. The Monon Railroad had two main lines. The Chicago to Indianapolis main line was built in 1847 and influenced development of the north central portion of Marion County. Industrial nodes developed on the west side of the Monon at 42nd and 49th streets, on the east side of the Monon at 46th Street, and on both sides of the rail line between 52nd and 54th streets.
The rail line was abandoned between Indianapolis and Delphi, Indiana in 1987. This was a time when abandoned railways nationwide were being converted to greenways for recreation and commuter use. By 2003 the Monon Rail-Trail was completed from 10th Street to 96th Street, approximately 10.4 miles. It connects with the 5.2-mile Monon Greenway in Carmel. The trail has direct connections to the Fall Creek Greenway and the Central Canal Towpath, which leads to the White River Wapahani Trail to form a trail network that reaches south to both sides of downtown and northwest to Fort Harrison State Park. The Monon Trail links commercial districts, schools, parks, the state fairgrounds and a dozen residential neighborhoods. In 2005, the Monon Trail was used more than 1.2 million times, making this urban greenway perhaps one of the busiest in the nation.
The conversion of the Monon from a rail line to a rail-trail has turned an industrial amenity into a residential and commercial amenity, thus influencing redevelopment along the eastern edge of the neighborhood. The four industrial nodes all have existing industrial buildings with industrial or heavy commercial uses in them. This broadens the neighborhood’s tax base and employment base. However, each of the industrial nodes is partially or completely surrounded by residential neighborhoods, which can lead to conflicts due to traffic, noise and smells.
Land Use and Design Recommendations for the Monon corridor:
- East/west pedestrian connections along the Monon Trail corridor should be installed to improve access to, and use of, the trail.
- Increase the amount of green space and pocket parks along the Monon Trail similar to Canterbury Park that would serve the residential areas.
- Increase access points to the Monon Trail for the convenience of the users.
- Landscaping guidelines should be established and implemented along the Monon Trail corridor.
- Provide appropriate buffers between commercial and residential uses to minimize the impact of noise, lighting, and trash.
- Height of new buildings should be limited to three stories, with a visual presence toward the Monon Trail; as the height is increased, the upper stories should “step back” in order to avoid a tunnel effect along the corridor.
- A parking study should be undertaken to determine the most appropriate way to address the parking shortage.
- Install landscaping along the corridor in those areas where plantings are sparse.
- Improve the appearance of the fencing adjacent to the Monon Trail in the area of the State Fair grounds (replace the cyclone/razor wire with more aesthetic materials), while maintaining security.