The Wabash River Scenic Byway Management Plan

Wabash River Scenic Byway Management Plan

The Wabash River Scenic Byway Management Plan guides and recommends policy for the 16-mile long Wabash River corridor through Tippecanoe County, Indiana. The plan integrates roadway design, wayfinding, and land stewardship under the grand theme of the river's 2.5 million year history. This interpretive lens melds geology, archaeology, anthropology, geopolitics and ecology as defining aspects of place. It guides ongoing management collaboration across multiple agencies and disciplines towards that unifying sense of place.

The plan represents a logical progression in a series of focused and interrelated efforts by the Wabash River Enhancement Corporation to enhance, protect, and preserve the rich natural and cultural heritage and intrinsic qualities of the Wabash River. This free flowing river meanders through Tippecanoe County, past the cities of Lafayette on the left bank and West Lafayette on the right bank, and upstream and downstream from them through neighboring counties.

The plan specifically addresses the principal public roadway bordering the river and its floodplain, North and South River Road, and the latter's Westward or downriver extension as Division Road. The road's relationship to the river is obvious when viewed from the heights of satellite imagery, but less apparent to Byway travelers today, whether commuters or visitors, whose actual experience of the Byway might be as disjointed segments rather than as its essential continuum. The river defines the region's history and its basis over time as ancient hunting grounds, encampments, exploration and transportation routes, and settlements now grown to a vital regional center. The Scenic Byway is the river's most visible and continuous expression by land, whether tight to adjacent high banks or at a distance along the edges of broad floodplains.


The plan's objectives for telling the story of this cultural resource through wayfinding and interpretation, and for creating a positive visitor experience, complement and support parallel efforts of existing tourism, economic development, recreation, and transportation agencies and organizations that have participated in the plan's development. Their coordinated efforts will be essential to the plan's implementation.

Strategies are action-oriented and geographically constrained to the Byway's viewshed experience which varies in scale and distance. The viewshed ranges from a few hundred feet along parts of North River Road to distant vistas and prospects across broad floodplains, with close engagement along the growing trail network.  The plan's equally important purpose is to provide safe multimodal connectivity to places both along it and accessed from it, in some cases some distance away. The Byway is envisioned as a primary mode of visitation to the Wabash River and its natural and cultural attractions near and distant that exist because of the river and its intrinsic qualities.

The Wabash River Scenic Byway Management Plan is a script for the Wabash River Enhancement Corporation and its implementing partners. It is expressed as a Near Term (one year), Intermediate (five year, and Long Term (ten year) implementation process, with recommendations that the plan be reviewed and updated annually for documentation of accomplishments and for identification of new opportunities.


Placemaking Recommendations 

  • Scenic Byway Overlay Zoning District to protect the Scenic Byway viewshed from land use changes that could diminish the intrinsic values of the Byway.
  • Voluntary Scenic, Open Space, Habitat, Historic Property and Conservation Easements to preserve the  character and resources along sections of the Byway.
  • Economic incentives that  provide stakeholders with alternatives to inappropriate development of open space resources. 
  • Critical right-of-way acquisition or donation for Byway continuity, trail development.
  • Multiple platforms to express the Scenic Byway Story as a celebration of place and culture.
  • Visitor orientation and scenic turnouts at points of engagement.
  • Scenic Byway Visitor Center at a central point of  multimodal convergence.
  • Consistent application of Scenic Byway roadway and streetscape elements for linear place continuum.


Connectivity Recommendations

  • Integrate the Byway story with wayfinding through GPS locatable mobile and web applications.
  • Strengthen Byway route identity with wayfinding signage, logo integration and mile markers.
  • Continue development of the parallel Wabash Heritage Trail as a Byway element.
  • Strengthen bicycle connectivity with lane striping, paved shoulders and appropriate speed limits.

Project Summary

Wabash River Scenic Byway Management Plan
Consultant Team: SKA prime with support from URS-Indiana and Transportation Solutions, LLC.
Year completed: 2014 | Length 16 miles
Client: Wabash River Enhancement Corporation

The study was funded by a Federal Transportation Planning grant administered by Indiana Department of Transportation, Crawfordsville District and the Tippecanoe County Highway Department. Matching funds were provided by the National Association of Realtors/Lafayette Regional Association of Realtors.

The process engaged stakeholders in three public meetings as well as through community and agency committee oversight and multiple small group meetings.




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