Rebuilding It Right

After 50 years of service, Central Indiana’s I-65/I-70 inner loop is wearing out. The aging infrastructure needs to be torn down and completely rebuilt. This project offers a once-in-a-generation opportunity to take Indiana to the next level.

But we only have one chance to get this right. The current INDOT direction would install massive walls while widening the lanes that cut through downtown. So we’re calling for city, state and local leaders to find a different direction with these key principles in mind:

  1. No above-grade walls.
  2. No additional through lanes.
  3. Increased connectivity between the neighborhoods and areas of commerce currently divided by the interstates.
  4. Increased opportunities for inclusive economic development.
Our window of opportunity is short.
INDOT plans to submit its preferred direction for reconstruction to the Federal Highway Administration in September 2018 and publish project information for prospective contractors in the fall. Reversing INDOT’s direction gets significantly more difficult with each milestone they reach. It’s imperative that state and local leaders act now to protect the central economic engine of the state.
The first phase of construction dictates the rest.
It’s true that INDOT only has immediate reconstruction plans for the North Split of I-65 and I-70. But INDOT’s definition of the “North Split” stretches west to Meridian Street, east to Rural Street, and south to Washington Street. Once construction begins, the layout of the North Split will dictate the direction for the rest of the inner loop. We will lose our chance to consider alternatives. The time for a serious, independent study is now—before initial construction locks us into a bad decision.
Widening lanes is not our only option.
INDOT’s current direction calls for widening the lanes that cut through downtown. We believe it’s too early to make that call. Other major U.S. cities are facing the same questions about what to do with aging infrastructure, and many have chosen to replace their highways with smarter, more connected traffic designs.
Rethinking 65/70 could have major economic benefits.
Preliminary estimates of new development potential along segments of the I-65 north leg alone indicate up to $200 million in assessed value—generating over $7 million in annual property tax increment.

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