June 2022 Update

I-65 Safety and Improvement Project

This spring INDOT announced an I-65 lane improvement and widening project that includes I-65/70 southeast split. As explained in INDOT’s April 8 letter the project would run from approximately 500 feet north of Fletcher Avenue in downtown Indianapolis to the north side of the I-465 interchange on the southeast side of Indianapolis, adding lanes in many places. This was included as part of the letter.

INDOT explains that the work is intended to “reduce corridor congestion by providing a roadway with an increased [level of service] during peak hours for the design year, 2032, and to extend the life of the existing pavement by at least 10 years.” Rethink has been in conversation with INDOT about the project to understand better INDOT’s proposed plans. We want to know how the project might impact Rethink’s recessed highway concept for the Inner Loop and the ongoing community conversation about the recessed highway concept we’ve been facilitating since the release of the feasibility and comparison study last August.

Rethink has also been contacting community groups with interests and concerns about the project’s impacts to submit letters to INDOT to become consulting parties. Twenty-five organizations and individuals have notified us that they have signed on as consulting parties.

How does the recessed highway concept reduce traffic congestion for people coming into downtown via the highway and after they exit?

To help us answer this question, we consulted the Rethink Coalition Design Committee, who are experts in community and transportation planning and urban design. According to our experts, the recently completed Inner Loop Comparative Study shows that recessing the highway will not cause more congestion and will improve traffic flow and safety. First, the recessed highway concept improves highway entrances and exits and creates street-level parkways that parallel the recessed interstate. This effectively separates slower-moving downtown destination traffic from higher speed interstate through traffic, which is much safer and more efficient for everyone. Second, streets cut off by the elevated highway can be reconnected across the recessed highway providing more options for reaching downtown destinations. Third, the combination of parkways and reconnected streets offer multiple options for traveling into and out of the city, all of which improve overall traffic flow. Read the Executive Summary of the Inner Loop Comparative Study to learn more.

Strategic Plans from Other Cities

In researching what other cities are planning for their urban highways, we found two cities with city-wide strategic plans that specifically address their highways – Omaha and Kansas City. This is important to highlight because the benefits or recessing the I-65/I-70 Inner Loop involve more than improving traffic and safety. It is critical to ensuring Indianapolis is positioned to compete nationally as a place people want to work in, live in, and visit. No strategic planning for the city can ignore the highway – doing so is a huge, missed opportunity and will stunt our city’s ability to thrive.

You can read summaries of Omaha’s Plan here.

You can read a summary of Kansas City’s Plan here.

Indianapolis Featured in the Daily Show’s Beyond the Scenes

Thanks to Rethink friend and transportation justice advocate, Professor Deborah Archer, Indianapolis was featured on Daily Show’s Beyond the Scenes in a piece addressing how racism is built into America’s interstate highways. Toward the end of this 50-minute piece about urban highways and racism, Professor Archer talks about Indianapolis as an example of a city taking on the call to address inequity as we rethink our urban infrastructure. Listen to the whole thing, but if you must, skip ahead to about the 46-minute mark to hear her discussion of Indianapolis.

Link to Archer: https://its.law.nyu.edu/facult...

Link to Beyond the Scenes | Daily Show:

Imagine the Possibilities – Klyde-Warren Park in Dallas, Texas

Klyde-Warren Park


Klyde-Warren Park in Dallas, Texas provides an example of what is possible with a recessed highway. The Park is a 5.2-acre deck park built over the recessed Woodall Rodgers Freeway between Pearl and St. Paul streets in downtown Dallas. The Park is a highly active urban greenspace with daily free programming for the public ranging from yoga to lecture series to outdoor concerts and films. The park is privately operated and managed by the Woodall Rodgers Park Foundation. Click here to learn more.

Read More
Featured Article
What you need to know about the I-65/I-70 north split controversy
Amy Bartner examines concerns surrounding the I-65/I-70 North Split for The Indianapolis Star.