A group of neighborhood advocates, architects, business owners, residents, community and civic groups and leaders that organized more than three years ago in response to INDOT’s preliminary North Split reconstruction plan has incorporated as a nonprofit organization to continue promoting forward-looking transportation infrastructure policy.
Dubbed Rethink 65/70, the group initially worked with the Indy Chamber, local officials, and the Indiana Department of Transportation (INDOT) to modify plans for an expanded interstate footprint of the North Split with additional traffic lanes and 30-foot-high walls in favor of a plan that reduces the interstate footprint, enhances neighborhood connectivity and creates land for recreation and redevelopment.
With a new name -- Rethink Coalition, Inc. – the newly incorporated nonprofit has broadened its mission beyond the North Split to address comprehensive planning for the entire 65/70 Inner Loop through downtown Indianapolis, providing an independent voice on policy and planning issues, and leadership focused on sustainable, equitable urban design in the capital city and central Indiana.
The group remains focused on working with state planners and city leaders to ensure any highway or road plan takes into consideration healing divisions that occurred 50 years ago, reconnecting downtown neighborhoods, and positioning the core of the state’s capital for inclusive economic development.
“The Rethink Coalition’s job is to bring together all stakeholders who want a voice in designing the infrastructure of a world-class city,” says Charlie Richardson, retired partner at Faegre Baker Daniels LLP and co-chair of the Rethink Coalition. “The legacy implications of decisions made over the next few years are huge,” he adds.
Richardson shares chairmanship of the Rethink Coalition with Russell Menyhart, partner at Taft Stettinius & Hollister LLP. Brenda Freije is the president and CEO.
The nonprofit status allows the Rethink Coalition to accept charitable donations to support its efforts.
Rethink Coalition has already partnered with the Indy Chamber Foundation to commission a study exploring design options for the remaining portions of the downtown 65/70 interstate system. Among other things, the study will compare a recessed-highway approach to reconstruction of the current elevated interstate design. It will provide specific metrics on project cost, traffic feasibility, safety, air quality, and environmental justice impacts of alternative concepts – including impacts on neighborhoods, businesses, and downtown connectivity and mobility.
The study, conducted by Arup Advisory, Inc., an internationally known design and engineering firm, is being funded by a grant from Lilly Endowment, with final results expected to be released later this spring. The Rethink Coalition intends to use the study to launch community-wide conversations about the significance of the interstate infrastructure to our city’s future economic development and quality of life.
“The Arup study points out the opportunities presented by rethinking our approach to infrastructure design and development. The right plan can spark economic development, provide diverse transportation options to all residents, and add to the beauty and tax base of our city and region,” says Menyhart. “This study places Indianapolis in the vanguard of major American cities developing innovative solutions for the replacement of aging, divisive interstates.”
To learn more about the Rethink Coalition, visit rethinkcoalition.org.
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About the Rethink Coalition
The Rethink Coalition is a non-partisan group of residents, neighborhoods, businesses, civic organizations, professional organizations, civic leaders, cultural destinations, urban planners, transportation planners, architects and landscape architects who are devoted to turning a necessary massive reconstruction project into an engine for better connectivity, a more livable and just urban center, and inclusive economic development for Central Indiana for future generations. We want to build a better, more inclusive city that mends and strengthens our urban fabric. For more info, visit rethinkcoalition.org.