Trails in Indiana


In this anemic economy, can trails really be of any help? Many studies have shown that trails certainly can and do help the economy.


Firstly, trails are more cost effective than other recreational facilities because of their simplicity and low maintenance. They require less land and offer opportunity for year round use. Besides recreational use, trails also can offer transportation opportunities.


Trails have also become highly desirable destinations for an increasing number of people. This includes tourists, all of whom may need food, lodging, and possibly fuel. Community festivals, which are held along the corridors, do raise money for various enterprises of a community.


Trail users also have a multiplier effect on the local economy. The goods and services they purchase from local businesses are, in turn, used by these businesses and employees to purchase goods and services from other businesses.

Thus we can’t forget that in addition to direct employment opportunities for these businesses, some building and trail upkeep and maintenance of trails offer more indirect employment opportunities.


How do trail management and maintenance costs fit in? Though much less than for other recreational activities, although old, a 1993 State of Maryland study of a rail-trail also showed that management and maintenance costs to the public were $191,893 a year, and the trail-related tax income itself was $303,750.


But what about property values along trails? Studies show that they will likely remain the same, or will go up slightly for properties accessing the trail. In fact, trail development can infuse redevelopment dollars into an area, increasing the whole tax base and local economy. Two of the best examples of this are The Monon Trail in Indianapolis and the Monon Greenway in Carmel. The City of Indianapolis is using this example as a model for opening the Pennsy Trail during 2009, in the Irvington neighborhood, so as to improve the eastside economy.


With everyone concerned and talking about the economy these days, rest assured that trails are definitely an economic plus for our community.

By Kim Muller