Over the last two months the Rethink 65/70 Coalition Leaders have been busy conducting a series of meetings and presentations with business leaders, business associations, civic leaders, city-county councilors, state legislators, the staffs of our federal Senators and Congressman, as well as representatives of our state government. We continue to educate and explain the enormous benefits of the Recessed Highway Reconstruction concept we developed for the downtown Inner Loop with the help of the economic impact analysis conducted by Arup Advisors, Inc.
In virtually every meeting and presentation, people come away excited about the potential to turn a necessary highway reconstruction project into a transformative public asset, reconnecting our urban core and serving as a catalyst for economic development for the next five decades.
The Crossroads of America is at its own crossroads. We can either rebuild highways based on outdated thinking, or we can use 21st century innovations to prioritize economic development and quality of life.
The State is moving forward with its design to reconstruct the North Split, where I-65 and I-70 come together at the northeast corner of the downtown Inner Loop. The Rethink Coalition agrees that many of the bridges in the “Spaghetti Bowl” are near the end of their expected useful life and need to be replaced. We don’t object to replacing the interchange. Our concern is that the reconstructed North Split not prohibit the future connection to a recessed highway on the north and east legs of the Inner Loop.
Our study of the State’s Alternative 4c design leads us to believe that the State’s current design does indeed prohibit the reasonable connection to a recessed highway in the future. Thus, we are asking the State to change its design at the west and south transition points of Alternative 4c to reasonably accommodate a future recessed highway connecting to the North Split on the north and east legs of the Inner Loop.
Obviously, we believe the recessed highway approach to reconstructing the downtown Inner Loop holds tremendous value to the city and state for decades to come. But we are not asking the State to commit to a recessed highway at this time. We are simply asking that that option not be eliminated by the design and construction of the current North Split project.
We have the chance to transform the core of our Capital City for the next generation and truly compete with peer cities for the best companies, jobs, and talented people. We cannot let the current North Split design prohibit the best Inner Loop reconstruction for the future.
The leadership team still has more interesting and important meetings and presentations coming up in the next few weeks. We should know by then whether reason can prevail, and the North Split project can accommodate a future recessed highway design for the Inner Loop. If not, we will be back to you and it will be time to dial up our voices to Rebuild it Right.