The INDOT Direction and a Few Alternatives

We agree with INDOT that eventually the aging I-65/I-70 infrastructure must be replaced. However, we have concerns about INDOT’s direction for rebuilding. Their current direction would widen the lanes that cut through the north, east and south sides of downtown Indianapolis. To do this, INDOT would erect 25-to-30-foot walls around most of downtown. The effect on commerce and livability would be devastating. 

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The Inner Loop Today

Our capital city was designed to be a connected, livable grid system. But in the 1960s, a new system of interstates cut through downtown. The I-65/I-70 inner loop divided historic neighborhoods, drove out residents and local businesses, and accelerated urban sprawl. As President Eisenhower himself said, this type of project went directly against the original vision for American highways. 


The INDOT Direction

The current INDOT direction risks worsening this problem. Although the reconstruction would stay within the state’s right-of-way, it involves expanding highway lanes and adding massive walls. This would eliminate green spaces, create barriers, and discourage economic activity. 

INDOT’s initial plans only address the North Split of I-65 and I-70 known as the “Spaghetti Bowl.” But once construction begins, the widened lanes and new structures will dictate the direction for the rest of the inner loop.

INDOT has not provided drawings of their current direction. This visualization is based on INDOT’s 2016 line drawings, which chart the course for the project.

Alternative Directions

We now have a chance to reverse the division caused by the 1960s interstate project. Cities across the U.S. plan to tear down their urban interstates and replace them with smarter, more connected traffic patterns. Alternatives like these would offer economic benefits while improving quality of life for Indiana residents. 

For example, a multimodal boulevard like the one pictured in these renderings would reconnect the city grid—giving commuters and residents more opportunities to enter or exit the highway. This would ease rush hour traffic and increase visibility, while creating new opportunities for economic development.

A multimodal boulevard would revitalize downtown—allowing commuters to walk, bike or drive and enhancing the landscape of our capital city. 

Reshaping Downtown I-65/I-70 could provide valuable new real estate on land reclaimed from the interstate (as shown in purple). Preliminary estimates indicate over $7 million in annual tax revenue from potential developments.

In a multimodal boulevard design, Boulevard Circles (as shown in dark green with yellow borders) would act as gateways to help evenly manage traffic throughout downtown—increasing connectivity while reducing bottlenecks.


INDOT plans to establish its direction for reconstruction with the Federal Highway Administration in June 2018, at that point it will become increasingly difficult to change the direction of this massive project. We’re calling on our leaders to commission an independent study before it’s too late. 

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