Streetscape aims to improve southern DT Indy Street

Merrill St Underpass (image by me)
Merrill St Underpass (image by me)

For quite some time, the intersection of Delaware and Merrill Street in downtown Indianapolis has been subjected to some particularly gnarly looking construction. What has been identified by the Indianapolis DPW as a “sanitatary sewer bypass” currently masks what will soon become the site of a rather transformative streetscape project. The DPW aims to transform Merrill Street from an eyesore of a street, to a walkable pedestrian path that will include artwork, green infrastructure, and LED lighting. The path will meander from the eastern Lilly campus, westward under the CSX viaduct to the other Lilly buildings located in the Illinois Street area.

The DPW expected the project to go to bid in late August to early September 2010, and since then, the sanitary sewer bypass work has been wrapped up; or appears to have been. I wrote about the sewer project here last summer. It also appears that this project is being bid through the State instead of DPW.

I have been unable to track down much more information about the project since last summer and my emails have went unanswered from the DPW, although I think the person responsible has been quite busy.

I recently ran across a project on Kevin Parsons & Associates website that appears to be the project set to take place in this space. I have attached the picture from the project page.

Merrill Street Plan (image source: KPA Project page)
Merrill Street Plan (image source: KPA Project page)

This should be considered a win for an area of downtown that is littered with parking lots or dilapitated looking architecture. Along with the coming North of South project, this will be a nice addition.

EDIT: I have recieved some new information regarding this project from the DPW. I was contacted after this post was made. I am awaiting a newer rendering of the project but have found out that the local match for this project was provided by Lilly. The project should break ground in August or September with a completion date of Spring 2012.

Edit #2: I finally received some new renderings from the DPW regarding tihs project. I have attached a couple below.

Merrill St Rendering (image source: Indianapolis DPW)
Merrill St Rendering (image source: Indianapolis DPW)
Merrill St Rendering (image source: Indianapolis DPW)
Merrill St Rendering (image source: Indianapolis DPW)

Comments 7

  • This will run from parking lots, past parking lots, to parking lots, underneath a steel railroad bridge that (no lie) is shored up with wood pillow blocks. It will connect the no-longer-Lilly Faris Campus with the Lilly HQ compound. It might have made sense before Lilly downsized, but who’s going to want to walk Merrill between Lilly and Rolls Royce HQs? The action’s all up on South St.
    Frankly, I can think of a lot better places and uses for pedestrian infrastructure money*…and I walk this route to Lucas Oil. This one appears to me as strictly a Super Bowl-driven fix-up: much of the Lilly parking is currently used by Colts fans and no doubt will be part of the high-dollar “near-stadium” parking on Game Day next year.
    A list of pedestrian improvements that would be better to spend money on IMO:
    *finish Fall Creek Trail from Monon to Upper Canal Trail (@ Burdsal Parkway)
    *acquire former Pennsy ROW from Emerson to Arlington and connect Pennsy Trail to Pleasant Run Trail at Howe HS
    *extend Pleasant Run Trail from Ellenberger Park east to Pleasant Run Golf Course
    *build a real trail along Pleasant Run through Citizens Gas Coke Plant site
    *connect Cultural Trail at Fountain Square to Pleasant Run Trail at Garfield Park (via Shelby)
    *connect Cultural Trail to Fall Creek Trail at 10th & Indiana
    *connect Upper and Lower Canal Trails via Fall Creek Parkway, Capitol Ave., Methodist campus, and Senate
    We’ve got lots of “missing miles” in our trail system that would greatly increase system utility if filled in. Some could logically be associated with CSO elimination/deep tunnel projects in the coming decade.

  • Well, as you can see per my update today Chris, the local match was provided by Lilly. I can see why the project is taking place where it is, if they are funding part of it’s construction.

    I don’t disagree with your coments though

  • Something does need to be done with this area. Not sure this is it, but its a start. I want to see downtown fully connected with Fletcher Place.

  • Great comments above. I am happy to see the Merrill Street improvements happening. And I am also happy to see that some of the other requested improvements mentioned in the posts above are indeed happening. I agree, we need connectivity in our area very badly.

    In particular:
    1. Build a real trail along Pleasant Run through Citizens Gas Coke Plant site: This is now being discussed by Citizens, Indy Parks, and SEND (Southeast Neighborhood Development). Hopefully we’ll hear more in the months to come

    2. Connect Cultural Trail at Fountain Square to Pleasant Run Trail at Garfield Park (via Shelby): This will be done by year’s end, if all goes well. This project was led by the CICF, Indy Parks, DPW and SEND. It will be a dedicated bike line with special treatments (bollards separating it from the traffic, for instance).

    3. Downtown fully connected with Fletcher Place: The Cultural Trail should be done by early 2012 and will connect Fountain Square and Fletcher Place via Virginia. Additionally, the North of South project should go a long way to making the entire area more connected to downtown.

    If you have any questions on these projects, don’t hesitate to ask. My email is

    I also really like the other projects mention above and I hope we see them come to fruition as well.



  • See the two latest renderings I posted above.

  • Has this project been completed?

    • Yep. Additionally, Lilly has completed a very beautiful multi-use trail through their campus along the Merrill St corridor (which this project also is).

      My biggest complaint about the viaduct project is that they used pavers with large spacing, presumably so they would be more permeable and let water through, but since a bunch of Lilly employees smoke over there, all the cigarette butts get caught in the paver gaps. Not attractive.

      In any case, I can walk from my house in Fletcher Place all the way to Lucas Oil and only walk on sidewalks for about one block. The rest of the journey is on multi-use pathways.

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