Columbus Riverfront Project Website


Project Purpose & Background

We have been diligently working to ensure public input on all plans to refocus attention on our Riverfront.  We realize that this is “our” River and that the future of our community will continue to be tied to innovation and creativity.  Having a vibrant Riverfront that is developed based upon considerable community and public input is important to the future of Columbus.

We have worked with the Indiana Department of Natural Resources Division of Fish and Wildlife to review our initial plans and recommendations for redevelopment of a tremendous community asset.  Those plans made a priority of protecting our environment, ensuring safety in all aspects, being fiscally responsible and continuing Columbus’ history and legacy of architectural quality and innovation throughout all design aspects.

Please note that we have also presented the proposed improvements to representatives of Congressman Pence and Governor Holcomb, who support the many benefits of the Riverfront project.  We will make changes to this website to keep you informed as the project moves forward.


Citizens Committee Goals

  • 10’-12’ Multi-use trail on the east bank of the river that connects to other pathways and trails in the vicinity.
  • River overlook areas
  • Low-maintenance materials, including those that will withstand flooding
  • Lighting to promote safety
  • Removal of low-head dam
  • Improvements to increase use of the river for recreational activities, including but not limited to the addition of riffles, rapids, or other water features to replace the dam
  • Repair of the erosion on the west bank of the river due to the low head dam and protection of both banks from future erosion
  • Beautification of the land on the west bank of the river, which may include trails or park- like features
  • Areas of public art to be incorporated in the future. It is anticipated that the selected design team will coordinate with the Columbus Area Arts Council for placement of the art.

Learn more about the Riverfront Plans, Designs and next steps here.

June 27, 2019

The Columbus Redevelopment Commission and Columbus City Council were presented the updated plans and design concepts for the Reimagining Our Riverfront project last month by Hitchcock Design Group. Check out the project updates, including design drivers for this exciting downtown riverfront project HERE

June 10, 2019

Most current Design & Schedule Updates for the Re imagining our Riverfront Project can be found HERE

May 20, 2019

Randy Royer with Hitchcock Design presented the updated plans and new design scope to the Columbus Redevelopment Commission.  View the presentation HERE.

May 2, 2019

The City of Columbus Next Level Trails Grant application was not selected to be funded through the Indiana Department of Natural Resources program.  Of the 82 projects submitted for consideration in this grant cycle, 17 were selected.  A new wetland investigation is required and will be completed at the end of May.  In addition, a Jurisdictional Determination report is required for the west bank by the Army Corp of Engineers and is expected to be complete by early June.  The design will be finalized in July and permit applications with final design will occur in August-September time frame with submission by the end of September.  March 2020 is now the anticipated timing of receiving approvals from regulatory agencies.

March 18, 2019

Next Level Trails Grant has been submitted.  The State has received a total of 82 applications totaling almost $144 million in grant funding for trails throughout the State.  Redevelopment and Riverfront consultants met with the regulatory agencies on 2/21.  Environmental Restrictive Covenant (ERC) modification on the west bank is complete.  Once the DNR Early Coordination Review has been approved, the plans will be submitted for permitting to the regulatory agencies.

January 28, 2019

Regulatory Coordination continues with a focus to submit designs and plans for review by the end of February.  Redevelopment and Riverfront consultants are gathering all needed documents for submission to the Indiana DNR for the Next Level Trails grant by February 15, 2019.

December 17, 2018

Riverfront Task Force met on 11/20/18.  Modifications to the in-river structures and trail alignment due to Regulatory Agency input have been made.  The EPA and IDEM have approved of modified ERC and will be signing off on the document shortly.  Regulatory coordination will continue and will submit permits within the next 2 months.  Next Level Trails grant opportunities will be researched and applied for in early 2019.

November 19, 2018

Project coordination continues with the Regulatory Agencies.  A fish biologist will join the design team to address DNR concerns about fish passage.  The Design Development documents are being refined.  IDEM has reviewed and submitted ERC modification to EPA for their approval.  Updates to the website are being made and a 3D study model of the riverfront is being completed.

October 25, 2018

Regulatory agencies made a site visit to Columbus and the Riverfront early in October to discuss pre-permitting requirements.  Those in attendance represented US Army Corp of Engineers, Indiana Department of Environmental Management, Department of Natural Resources, and US Fish & Wildlife along with the Columbus Riverfront design team.

September 17, 2018

Additional soil testing on the west bank was completed for wetland determination.  Coordinated with regulatory agencies on fish passage.  IDEM reviewed updated ERC on west bank.  Hydraulic modeling of current design with “no rise” condition showed good news.  Coming up this month, design development documents will be submitted and reviewed, final coordination with IDEM on ERC will be completed, and the Regulatory Coordination meeting will occur the end of September.

August 20, 2018

Progress as of August 20, 2018 include design updates being complete based on Regulatory feedback, schematic design has been submitted and reviewed, and coordination with IDEM on ERC of old landfill site.  The DNR Lake and River Enhancement (L.A.R.E.) grant was denied for this project.

June 20, 2018

Progress as of June 18, 2018 include the Geo technical field work being completed, utilities have been coordinated, and schematic design is finished.  Two grants have been applied for: The USFWS Fish Passage Grant and the DNR Lake and River Enhancement (L.A.R.E.).

February 21, 2018

On February 19, 2018, the Columbus Redevelopment Commission voted unanimously to approve a new contract with Hitchcock Design Group for Phase I – Preliminary Design and Phase II – Design Development / Permitting Services.  During these phases Hitchcock Design Group will further refine the Re-imagined Riverfront Concept Plan, provide preliminary engineering and submit the design to various state and federal agencies for permitting.

This next step in the design of the riverfront is very important as it will address securing and stabilizing our river banks, dam removal, water levels, water quality, fish passage, people trail connections and access to the water.

January 22, 2018

A beautiful, attractive and  interactive riverfront plan has finally been formally adopted.   On January 22, 2018, the Columbus Redevelopment Commissioners unanimously voted to accept the Hitchcock Design plan that will turn our Columbus Riverfront into a first-class, architecturally significant, vibrant, multi-themed parkway that appeals to all ages and is accessible by all.

Click here to see the latest details.

November 9, 2017

A community -wide OPEN HOUSE was held November 8, 2017 at the Hamilton Community Center.   More than 100 community members, City employees, Hitchcock Design Team professionals and media attended.  The OPEN HOUSE was an awesome success.   The public was excited listening and watching 15 and 20 minute presentations that explained the details of the overall design and concept for our Columbus Riverfront.

This project promises to be a multi-year, multi-phase undertaking that transforms an unimproved waterfront to an interactive extension of Mill Race Park!   Adding limestone overlooks, ADA accessible pathways to the river’s edge, a 10-15 foot wide People Trail connection from the Observation Tower in Mill Race to Water Street downstream.  The People Trail will take pedestrians, bicyclist, runners and walkers, visitors, downtown workers, retirees, families and more under the 2nd and 3rd Street bridges – and all points in between.

Click here to see the latest designs and pictures of the OPEN HOUSE.





December 2016: Summary Update
During the summer of 2016, a Riverfront Community Committee was formed. Representatives from the Arts Council, Columbus Young Professionals, Landmarks Columbus, the Visitors Center, community stakeholders, downtown merchants, and the City of Columbus Engineering, Parks & Recreation and Redevelopment Departments provided valuable input on what the community wanted to see along the riverfront.

The committee’s marching orders were to go into the community and gather citizen ideas on what was important and desired. From this research and idea generation, a “Request for Proposal” was generated.

After careful consideration, the Evaluation Team unanimously selected Hitchcock Design Group as the design team for recommendation to the Redevelopment Commission for the Riverfront Redevelopment Project. On December 19, 2016, the Redevelopment Commission approved entering into contract negotiations with Hitchcock Design in an amount not to exceed $229,000.

Following execution of a final contract, Hitchcock will begin working on several riverfront designs with plenty of opportunity for public input, engagement and interaction.   2017 will be a year filled with new riverfront ideas!

Read the Complete Design Team Recommendations:

Riverfront Design Team Recommendation

Hitchcock Design Group Proposal