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 can serve as a catalyst for economic growth and a magnet for job creation.
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 economic development while improving connectivity and livability.
OUR WORK SO FAR—AND OUR FOCUS MOVING FORWARD
The I-65/I-70 Inner Loop in downtown Indianapolis is nearing the end of its lifespan. It must be rebuilt from the ground up. This project offers an enormous opportunity to take the Crossroads of America to the next level. But we only have one chance to get this right.
So for the past 18 months, the Rethink Coalition has been focused on improving plans for the North Split interchange (the first phase of construction). As a result, INDOT has reduced the size of the interchange, reduced the number and height of retaining walls, and eliminated additional through lanes. We’re grateful to INDOT for listening and making these changes. However, we believe much more must be done to increase community connectivity and economic development opportunities.
More recently, the Coalition has focused on working with the state’s planners to change the North Split design so that it could more easily connect to a future recessed highway. Although some of these conversations were productive, the most innovative recommendations have been rejected, and the state is absolutely determined to move forward with the North Split final design and construction.
As we move forward, the Rethink Coalition has two primary focuses: 1) INDOT’s Context Sensitive Solution Process for the North Split and 2) comprehensive planning for future stages of reconstruction.
FOCUS 1: CONTEXT SENSITIVE SOLUTION PROCESS
INDOT is currently undergoing a Context Sensitive Solution (CSS) process for the North Split interchange. During this process, they will gather community input about the design of areas surrounding the highway, and your involvement is urgently needed.
If INDOT follows the national Institute of Transportation Engineers’ guidelines, the CSS process can greatly improve the interchange by making the areas around it more walkable and connecting communities separated by the interstate. But the principles of walkability and connectivity need to be baked in from the beginning—before we even begin to talk about design features of bridges, sidewalk widths, lighting, green spaces and public art.
The Rethink Coalition has submitted a long list of CSS recommendations to INDOT’s planners and engineers, which you can read here. We asking for the state to do all it can to integrate the North Split interchange into the fabric of our capital city’s urban core. The North Split should be a model of an urban interstate interchange built to serve people on the ground, not just traffic on the roadway.
But it is important that our city and state leaders hear from individuals like you too. Use the links below to get your message to our leaders that the North Split interchange needs to be designed for people as well as vehicles when it cuts through the very core of our capital city.
FOCUS 2: PLANNING THE REST OF THE INNER LOOP
The Rethink Coalition’s second focus is comprehensive planning for the rest of the I-65/I-70 Inner Loop. We’ve already 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 plans for the North Split, it was too late to make enough comprehensive changes.
It’s time to learn from that mistake. Planning early is the only way to maximize our opportunity for innovation and collaboration. If we wait, safety issues will dictate the timeline and impact the design, putting us far behind competitor cities and states. We must not sit idle and watch opportunity pass us by.
To begin, we’re calling for two important studies: one comparing the cost of a recessed reconstructed Inner Loop to an elevated reconstructed Inner Loop, and a second comparing the impact of each approach on downtown traffic.
These studies can be completed in a short period of time at a fraction of what the total Inner Loop reconstruction will cost. This small investment will get the facts on the table as we work to create infrastructure improvements that could launch decades of economic growth and a beautiful, multi-functional, connected urban core that can be the envy of our competitor cities.
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.
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.
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