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Our Vision

The I-65/I-70 reconstruction will reshape life and enterprise in Indianapolis for the next 50 years. With proper planning, the new Inner Loop will be a catalyst for inclusive economic growth and a magnet for job creation throughout the region.

We owe it to future generations to make the most of this opportunity. That’s why we’re recommending a recessed, open-air interstate that will make room for additional inclusive economic development while improving connectivity and livability.

Our vision is that Indianapolis is a vibrant, innovative, engaging, compelling, and healthy place to live, work, learn, play, and visit with a built environment that helps people thrive. Achieving this requires bold and imaginative leadership. We are committed to helping make it happen.

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I-65 as it exists today.

The Coalition’s concept would free up land for additional economic development, while staying within the state’s right-of-way.

OUR WORK SO FAR—AND OUR FOCUS MOVING FORWARD

We’ve seen real progress, and already achieved so much. Since 2017, the Rethink Coalition has focused on improving plans for the North Split interchange—the first phase of Inner Loop reconstruction. Through collective efforts, we’ve helped make significant changes to benefit not only downtown Indianapolis but all of Central Indiana:


01 Reduced Footprint:

  • Overall, the size of the North Split interchange is now smaller—with more space opened to the north and no additional thru lines.

02 No “Walled-off” Neighborhoods:

  • 20-to-30-foot embankment walls in the original plans would have blocked off neighborhoods—these have been eliminated.
  • Intrusive noise-barrier walls suggested in Old Northside, Chatham Arch, and Lockerbie have been eliminated as well, but beneficial noise barrier walls desired by Martindale Brightwood and eastward developments will still be erected.

03 More Greenspace:

  • An urban forest will be planted within and around the interchange. The contractor will be required to maintain it for three years.
  • Many trees already planted alongside the interstate in a do-not-disturb area have been saved.

04 More Multi-Use Areas:

  • Original plans included a temporary Monon Trail detour during construction. Now it will become a wonderful permanent addition—providing a multi-use trail loop to connect the Old Northside, Chatham Arch and, hopefully, Cottage Home.
  • Instead of being eliminated, the Vermont Street Bridge will be replaced with an underpass designed for vehicle, pedestrian, and bicycle traffic.

05 Improved Bridges:

  • Eight bridges have been classified as major downtown gateways. They receive special treatment to their abutments, underpass walls and walkways, and adjacent landscape as well as space for public art.
  • Three bridges have been classified as minor downtown gateways will receive special treatment to their abutments, underpass walls and walkways, and adjacent landscape.
  • The Commerce Street bridge underpass will be improved with new sidewalks, pedestrian lighting, landscaping and a mural.
  • Overall, designs for new city bridges have been simplified.


We’re grateful to INDOT for listening and making these changes.

As we move forward, we have three primary focuses: 

  1. Monitor the construction phase of the North Split project 
  2. Comprehensive planning for future stages of Inner Loop reconstruction.
  3. Equity and Environmental Justice

FOCUS 1: MONITOR RECONSTRUCTION OF NORTH SPLIT

North Split construction is slated to begin at the end of 2020. The Rethink Coalition will monitor construction to see that our extensive hard-fought improvements are implemented.

FOCUS 2: PLANNING THE REST OF THE INNER LOOP

Our second focus is comprehensive planning for the rest of the I-65/I-70 Inner Loop. We’ve learned the hard way that planning needs to start early. Research and collaboration on the North Split interchange should have begun years ago—and should have focused on much more than traffic. By the time INDOT shared its North Split plans, it was too late to make more fundamental and meaningful changes.

It’s time to learn from that mistake. Planning early is the only way to maximize innovation, collaboration, livability and inclusive economic development. If we wait, safety and traffic issues will dictate the timeline and design—putting us far behind competitor cities and states. We must not sit idly by as our opportunity fades.

In partnership with the Indy Chamber Foundation and the financial support of the Lilly Endowment, we’ve already taken the first critical steps toward reimagining the Inner Loop. In spring 2020, we engaged the expertise of Arup Advisors, an international transportation and engineering firm. Arup has conducted a thorough comparison of the Rethink Coalition’s Recessed Highway Concept and INDOT’s reconstruction plan for erecting a newer version of an elevated highway.

The Indy Chamber recognizes that Rethink’s vision deserves serious study, since it matches the Chamber’s long-term goals for the vitality of Indiana’s capital city. Indy Chamber president and CEO Michael Huber explains, “Community leaders are imagining a different future for the way we will live, move and do business in downtown Indianapolis over the next 50 years, setting the foundation for an interstate system that enhances mobility in the urban core and across the region. We’re prioritizing larger, longer-term potential for neighborhood redevelopment – consistent with the emphasis on connectivity and quality of life in our Accelerate Indy economic development strategy.”

The Arup study gives us a solid framework for community conversations about maximizing the benefit of this massive infrastructure project. Instead of simply moving traffic, we can reset the stage for a new 21st-century capital city. This has benefits beyond the city and will help position the region and the state to thrive.

FOCUS 3: EQUITY AND ENVIRONMENTAL JUSTICE

Promote equity and environmental justice in all aspects of urban highway planning and construction.

The Coalition’s Concept

The Rethink Coalition’s concept for I-65/I-70 would transform our existing interstate into an innovative system that easily accommodates traffic while setting Indianapolis up as a thriving 21st century city to rival any in the nation.

This approach would free up 83 acres of developable land, which could eventually generate more than $2 billion in economic development and at least $55 million a year in additional property tax revenue. It would also contribute to improved quality of life, environmental/public health, social equity and neighborhood connectivity.

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I-65 as it exists today.

A recessed, open-air interstate would handle passthrough traffic while providing additional space for local traffic, bus rapid transit, sidewalks and bike lanes.

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The north leg of I-65 as it exists today.

The Coalition’s concept for the north leg. Purple areas show state land that could be made available for development by Rethink’s compressed and recessed highway design.

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The south leg of I-65 as it exists today.

The Coalition’s concept for the south leg. Purple areas show state land that could be made available for development by Rethink’s compressed and recessed highway design.


The Coalition’s concept would provide convenient entry/exit points to the interstate, while reconnecting the local grid. Parallel, at grade collector-distributor roadways would eliminate weaving on the interstate and more efficiently distribute traffic into the city grid. 

An Example from Our Neighbors

The Coalition’s concept is not an outlandish or unprecedented design. There is a growing national movement of cities rethinking infrastructure in innovative ways—including one example just 100 miles southeast of Indianapolis. 

The mid-1990s redesign of Fort Washington Way in Cincinnati transformed downtown. By freeing up land between the interstate and Ohio river, Cincinnati was able to add stadiums, housing, businesses and a beautiful riverfront park.

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