Making sense of the latest Indyconnect documents, 8/2010

I was tooling around in my regular search for things related to light rail and Indianapolis yesterday and discovered that Indyconnect has created a “NE Corridor” specific portion of their wesite. Contained within, is a more detailed exploration of the process, and the documentation required, as it moves forward. Currently, as I have recently reported, there is an Environmental Impact Study (EIS) being conducted on the alignment from Union Station to Noblesville, in the Nickel Plate right of way (ROW). HNTB is the private contractor who is conducting the study.

One of the newest documents on the site, is a draft version of an “Initiation Document”. Contained within, are 32 pages of details that sound a lot like what we have seen over the past decade regarding the NE Corridor. However, also buried in those 32 pages are some somewhat inspiring details.

A lot of talk since Indyconnect’s initial plan, was the absence of streetcar or lightrail that would directly serve North Meridian Street and the Broad Ripple neighborhood, both located north of downtown Indianapolis. Advocates have suggested streetcar or light rail technology on College Ave, Meridian Street, from Fountain Square to Mass Ave to Broad Ripple, or any combination of those. Many of the reasons center on the employment centers located along Meridian Street or the “connecting places ideal” in regards to Fountain Square, Mass Ave and Broad Ripple.

To those of you readers who may have been some of those talking, take note. HNTB, the MPO, etc. have heard the noise. Contained within the Initation Document is the following text (located on page 22 in the Alternatives section):

North Side Transit Service

Recent transit system planning work and Indy Connect public comments suggest that improved transit service on arterial streets near North Meridian Street and North College Avenue could be an attractive strategy for serving the neighborhoods and activity centers on the North Side of Indianapolis. This suggests that the travel markets intended to be served by increased service frequency and closer stops near downtown in the ConNECTions preferred transit alternative and the CITTF recommendation may be better served by BRT or LRT services in these arterial corridors. The detailed alternatives will explore the feasibility of stations in this area, recognizing that complementary (and potentially more service-intensive) transit service might be provided on arterial streets further east. This service could provide an important connection between the Northeast Corridor and other north side activity centers. The design team will coordinate closely with the IndyConnect transit system planning process as this transit service is defined in the MPO Long Range Transportation Plan

While this does not specifically lay down any sort of plans or even suggest that they WILL, it does let us know that they are listening. We also have a bit of time until the NE Corridor EIS findings are available to the public. If I understand the letter of the law, any text regarding other alignments NOT part of the NE Corridor, will likely not be allowed as part of the overall NE Corridor EIS based on how federal funding is handed out.

As for Indyconnect? They will have some more meetings this fall to tighten up the long range transportation plan and my advise if you want to see streetcars or light rail on Meridian, College or other places is keep beating that drum…

Comments 3

  • When I spoke to some officials at IndyGo about their Comprehensive Operational Analysis they do every couple of years, they mentioned that one of the changes they’ll be moving towards in the next few years is creating a circulator bus to move people quickly from downtown to the 38th and Meridian area, since a great deal of buses run the same route up and down that corridor. So, they’d make 38th and Meridian a northern transit hub, from what I understand.

  • I’ve heard the same idea Andrew.

    It seems the MPO has been planning for transit based on traffic congestion instead of population density. While there is a need for relieving congestion, those suburban areas need to see some basic infrastructure improvements first, such as sidewalks and mixed-use buildings. Meanwhile, there are plenty of people in the urbanized area who would love to have another transportation option that live within walking or biking distance of traffic corridors.

  • Agreed, Kevin. And folks like us keep yelling “look HERE!!!” The areas were developed and shaped originally by transit, so they are already ideal for transit! Even if 10 trains per rush hour carry 200 people apiece, that’s only 2,000 cars off the road. Negligible. And without infrastructure improvements (bus and sidewalk), there won’t be too many reverse commuters from the city to the ‘burbs.
    On the other hand: dense population + multiple parallel bus routes + existing high ridership = a very good case for new streetcar/light rail service.
    The same case “for” the east-west Washington Street line applies even more to the Near North corridor (Capitol to College from downtown to 38th), which has a half-dozen parallel north-south routes running within 7/8 mile east to west. A streetcar line centered on this spine makes absolute sense. Replace the 18, 19, 38, 39 (maybe 28) buslines south of 38th with streetcar from Downtown to 38th & College via Meridian and/or Illinois and create a true 38th St. crosstown route.

    Following Curt’s suggestion, replace the 17, 18, 19 lines south of 62nd/BR Ave. with the streetcar along College and BR Ave. that ends at a transfer point at Glendale. That point would also tie into the north-south Keystone bus route 26. Or maybe such a train should just continue across 62nd to the NKP right of way and then become “the train to Fishers”.

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