Reconstructing the Irvington Cloverleaf

Indianapolis, like many other cities, is looking for ways to gain revenues and cut costs. There is a great opportunity to do both at the same time to the east of Irvington. I believe that it’s safe to say that this city-owned cloverleaf at the crossroads of Washington and Shadeland is no longer necessary. Irvington has been looking to beautify the interchange. However, I believe it would be more useful to eliminate it entirely.

The oldest cloverleaf in Central Indiana.

This interchange is huge.  For a size comparison, this is the city-owned portion of this property (with the Right of Way included) superimposed on Monument Circle downtown:

For yet more visualization, I turned to Patrick Beyer, a recent graduate of Ball State University’s Landscape Architecture program. He put together these size comparisons focused on the intersection itself:

Instead of paying to maintain the roadway and infrastructure, the city can sell the land to developers and collect taxes on the sale.  We could in turn reinvigorate the corner of Washington Street and Shadeland Avenue.  Perhaps we put the shade back in Shadeland, in the form of buildings and street trees.

Finally, Patrick put together this cool visualization if this intersection were to be urban in orientation:

This would make an excellent starting point for an East Washington Street light rail line, which would help the intersection grow organically and lessen the need for parking.

Comments 14

  • i love patrick’s mock up…what a brilliant idea!

  • This would be fantastic if this was realized. I’ve often wondered how much that cloverleaf actually does for traffic alleviation. I’m assuming this was built before 465 re-routed the greater portion of Shadeland’s traffic?

    • Yes, Shadeland predates 465. More history of the interchange can be found here.

      • Bridge to nowhere. Wow. \
        I agree that a repurposed intersection with some sort of rapid transit at the core would be fantastic. It would also represent a fantastic step in the right direction for Indianapolis in curbing it’s appetite (at least at the INDOT level) for more roads.

  • Cool idea!!!!

  • I use this silly cloverleaf once or twice a week. What a great place it would be for a park-and-ride for the future bus rapid transit/light rail line.

  • Now this is the type of infrastructure improvement government should be considering and doing. Unfortunatley any infrastructure improvement any more is tied to government giveaways and sweetheart deals for developers instead of what’s in the best interest of the City’s residents.

  • Single Point Urban Interchanges work better in urban and suburban areas and leave more developable land. It’s funny how INDOT thinks an interchange in Gas City, IN is appropriate for Indianapolis.

  • Think big, it’s free.
    Wouldn’t it be great to put one of Aaron Renn’s “100 Monument Circles” there, and turn the intersection into a focal point instead of a traffic intersection? Perhaps something on the order of Dupont Circle in DC, where the through traffic on the major street burrows under a surface circle that serves its immediate neighborhood. Put a monument to/museum of American Manufacturing in the middle, in honor of the departed Ford, Western Electric, Chrysler, RCA, and Jenn-Air factories that used to line Shadeland. (A structure built of reclaimed cars, phones, records, appliances, telephones…)
    Shadeland sure doesn’t need to be a four lane superhighway south of Eastgate; Washington is probably the busier road and would need to be buried under the circle.

  • Oh, yeah. I forgot to say…”and make it the eastern terminus of the Washington Street Light Rail line.” But I’m sure you all assumed that part. 🙂

    • Hi all,

      The Cloverleaf Beautification Project is actually the handiwork of the Irvington Terrace Crime Watch group.

      To date over 300 trees and 600 native grasses and wildflowers have been planted on the northwest and southwest quadrants. We are in our 3rd year of a long term project that will some day include a piece of public art in the southeast quadrant. The south side of the cloverleaf is very visable from the new Pensy Trail.

      We have used grants from Keep Indianapolis Beautiful. Inc., Indiana Native Plant and Wildflower Society, Tri-Kappa, Irvington Garden Club, JFNew, etc.

      The team leaders for the Lilly day of service trained at our southeast quadrant planting over 150 trees before the huge planting that closed the highway down from the airport to downtown.

      One thing I really like about the cloverleaf-one less street light to wait through.

      A circle would be very much in keeping with Irvington history. Has any one seen Irvington’s 2 circles? One has a beautiful old church in the middle the other has a fountain and a park.

      Any ideas on how to fill in all our OTHER vacant businesses? There are many!!

      • I also live in Irvington and love the work that is going on for the cloverleaf beautification. The ITCW has been very active in many parts of the neighborhood, and that is much appreciated. However, I would definitely trade the time of waiting at an additional streetlight for a better urban design. The lack of a streetlight means that people can’t cross the road unless they are driving a vehicle, or running quickly. A light rail station or centerpiece for a neighborhood crossing would be more appropriate than what we have.
        The business spaces will fill in as the economy continues to recover, and as more efforts to reclaim Irvington’s people-friendly businesses are finished. We shouldn’t lose sight of the problem, i.e. we have surrendered too much space to cars and inappropriate urban highways. As the old saying goes, if you design a city for cars then that is what you get!

        • “…we have surrendered too much space to cars and inappropriate urban highways.”

          I agree!! Pleasant Run is paying for it with overflowing sewers.

          “… lack of a streetlight means that people can’t cross the road unless they are driving a vehicle, or running quickly”

          That makes me think a connecter to the Pennsy Trail would be a good idea right along there, off of Shadeland or straight back from Washington on Edmondson? That way people could walk in a much more pleasant environmemnt instead of right alongside traffic.

          Have you been on the Pennsy? I can’t wait until they add more trail!!

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