Confusion Abounds Over Cost Of Cultural Trail

Project Organizers Respond To Opponent's 'Are You Kidding Me?' Cry

What can $55 million do for the city of Indianapolis?

That question is being posed to proponents of the Indianapolis Cultural Trail, a project that is expected to cost $55 million.

The multi-purpose path that is being built in downtown Indianapolis for bicyclists, runners, joggers and pedestrians comes at a staggering costs, detractors say, but organizers insist there is more confusion than controversy surrounding the project's cost.

"I'm sure it will be a great addition to the city. My concern would be the timing of it," said resident Jim Ramsey, who contacted 6News to share his views on the project. "This is an outrageous project in light of our economic times."

Specifically, Ramsey balked at the project's detailed brickwork and fancy light fixtures. He also questioned why such a trail was necessary on quiet downtown roads such as Walnut Street.

"Are you kidding me?" he asked. "They're doing so much work on this, and I've really never seen anybody use this street."

Ramsey compared the Indianapolis project to the infamous bridge in Alaska that gained so much attention in the 2008 presidential election.

"In my mind, this is the Indianapolis equivalent to the 'bridge to nowhere,'" he said.

Project organizers claim Ramsey's accusations couldn't be further from the truth. They cited figures that show the majority of the project -- $28.35 million so far -- being funded by private donations, including $15 million donated by local philanthropists Gene and Marilyn Glick.

An additional $14.4 million is channeled through the city from a federal transportation grant -- money meant specifically for projects such as these -- according to organizers with the Central Indiana Community Foundation.

Brian Payne, CICF's president, said the project would only add value to the city.

"It connects to every significant arts, cultural, sports, entertainment and heritage venue downtown, and it does so in a way that's bigger, bolder and more beautiful than any trail in the world," he said.

Organizers hope the Cultural Trail will be complete in time for the Super Bowl, which Indianapolis hosts in 2012, but it depends on the project's funding, which is currently nearly $13 million short of the $55 million total.

"If we can't raise that money, we'll probably fall behind our ideal timeline," Payne said, adding that other concerns about the project's funding are "misunderstood."

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