Meridian Kessler’s Long Range Traffic Calming Plan

At last week’s Monon Corridor meeting, a presenter mentioned the Meridian Kessler long range traffic calming plan.  I was unfamiliar with it, so I checked it out on the internet the next day.  I had no idea how ambitious it would be.   Naturally, my favorite part of the plan is the raised intersections and improved crosswalks at the neighborhood nodes.  These intersections are currently dangerous to cross on foot, and the presenter mentioned that there have been a few serious accidents recently in the area.

This plan will not be implemented soon, but it is good to know that the neighborhood is serious about improving its safety and accessibility.  Traffic calming could help turn this neighborhood from being a cut-through between Broad Ripple and Downtown, and into even more of a destination in its own right.

Addendum: I’m a bit upset that the Bent Rail rezoning was denied yesterday due to noise and parking concerns.  I do think that noise could have been an issue, but parking fears are once again rearing its ugly head in the city.  This despite the fact that the project had space for both cars and 100 bikes, and that they had permission to use the Developer Town lot next door.  In addition, many people, including myself, could have walked there.  Instead of a vibrant and unique reuse, we are stuck with an empty and decaying building.  Not a good precedent to set.

Comments 16

  • Actually, a lot of these changes are already taking place. I live right by the shops at 56th and Illinois, and many crosswalk lights and bump-outs are already taking place.

  • Re, Bent Rail:

    I live in the neighborhood just north of the proposed location. I’m disappointed it won’t happen — a microbrewery in walking distance from my house? Yes please. But I can understand why some of my neighbors (and those more immediately located to the project) were not in favor. That reaction is telling, particularly since we border the 54th street corridor; we’re used to retail activity. Calling this NIMBY-ism, as IndyCog did, is white washing things a bit. No one I’ve heard from opposed the restaurant. The scale of it, though, raised a lot of concern.

    As you know, neighbors reacted to the outdoor space, and the capacity, which grows over 1,000 for ticketed events. Even at total everyday capacity of 600 (which was reduced from 800), the plan called for just 54 dedicated parking spots. The Developertown lot which Bent Rail would have shared would bring their total to 134. But that lot is frequently full, even at night — I attended a social function there a few weeks ago, and the lot was 3/4 full. I think this parking approach was overly optimistic, and neighbors clearly didn’t think it was sufficient. It sounds like MDC’s staff report didn’t think it was either.

    We do need to encourage a walkable community, yes — I loved that I could have walked to this location. But it’s hard to believe this would not be a destination restaurant.

    I know the developers made changes to capacity in the last few weeks, but they were also asked at a public meeting a few weeks ago if they would develop the project without the outdoor space — they said no. It’s not clear to me why the plan couldn’t be scaled back, but I’m guessing that they need the outdoor space to make the project economically viable.

    I really loved the plan for farm-to-table food, movie nights and more. I hope everyone involved is willing and able to sacrifice some of that to bring this project to bear.

  • Noise and parking concerns can both be managed with The Bent Rail development. Classic example of midwest simpletons adverse to any change that could,in their own mind, affect their precious baby’s bedtime. So, would you prefer a vacant, graffiti-laced building to a thriving neighborhood hangout, that would increase interests and property values in that particular area? Beer and coffee joint? Sounds pretty innocent to me. Bent Rails plan for a patio space would simply need to include plans to mitigate noise for their neighbors: limit outdoor music, design a patio area where noise is mostly contained. To stifle progress and development because of the preference of the familiar in this case is simply wrong. Help put Indy on the map as a thriving cultural scene, craft beer and local coffee is a step in the right direction…especially given the condition of the site currently.

  • I like the long-range traffic calming plan. On a somewhat related topic, a neighbor of mine recently contacted Mayor’s hotline and requested that a triangular “island” be painted on the intersection of Park, Westfield and 62nd Street (in order to calm/direct traffic) and to my surprise, city folks have done it in no time.

    Regarding Bent Rails – I am not an expert on this, but isn’t capacity the highest possible attendance allowed? I would think most places rarely operate at full capacity. Like in all other “hip” places, you might have parking issues on Friday or Saturday. But that’s the price you need to be willing to pay in order to replace a vacant building with a thriving business. And you are not just losing one business, because this kind of development has a potential to jump start other (commercial or residential) developments nearby.

  • Too bad parking made its way as a concern. The owner’s could be much more flexible on the outdoor and event aspect of this; which is where the concern lies. Do 4 events a year around major holidays or create some kind of weekend jam fest (that happens 1 time a year) for the taste of music they want. Simple, but they do want to gouge the revenue that concerts create.

    Wedding receptions could be good or bad, but I’ll let those living closer decide that. As well as for the hours. Nothing good happens at 2am.

    Open ticketed events with over 1,000 capacity is ridiculous. Vogue has that, is indoor, and in a commercial district. This is not appropriate for the neighborhood.

    Bent Rail does have the support to create a restaurant, brewery, coffee shop and bier-garten. It’s easy, and I hope they can compromise.

  • I presume the developers will appeal yesterday’s recommendation of the Hearing Examiner. I hope that they don’t determine that their business model won’t succeed without the outdoor concerts, and that they will move forward with the restaurant, brewery, and other activities.

  • Someone at the Indy Start raised the point that the Bent Rail plan could have really pushed for integrating bike parking into their plan. It would not have deflected a great deal of the spatial issues, but it would have helped a bit, and at least it would mean fewer people behind a big motorized vehicle after they’ve had a few brews.
    But no, the Monon Trail isn’t 24-hour, so the best means of accessing this site at night is still verboten.

  • Correction: obviously I didn’t read Kevin’s post thoroughly enough. Plenty of bike parking for the Bent Rail. All the more reason to push for a 24-hour Monon Trail.

  • If we, in Midtown, insist on making parking a development issue, nothing is ever going to be developed here. The things we’d really like to see come here will end up in the suburbs, in former cornfields. What happened with Bent Rail, mostly, is that neighbors imagined the worst possibly outcome of the outdoor events, because imaginations are like vacuums and tend to be filled with the first gas that passes (lol). My advice to the developers, assuming there’s a level of economic sense there, would be to shrink the proposed outdoor capacity to a level that gets resounding MDC Staff support, which the project never quite received. From everything I’ve read about the owner’s other projects, it simply needs some time to let neighbors see their vision close-up. If the neighborhood starts to like the place at a trial level, it’s going to gain support, and perhaps it can be expanded.

    On one other note, there was more than a little political payback involved at the hearing. You simply don’t see, ever, Councilors from far away Districts, taking a negative position regarding a development in the District of a Councilor who supports the development.

  • I think turning crosswalks into speed bumps and narrowing intersections will slow traffic to improve safety, but it will also slow traffic and increase traffic jams. Of course the best traffic calming improvement would be really good public transportation. What ever happened to the Bus Rapid Transit Plan for College, etc.?

    • Slowing traffic is to be expected if we wish to increase public safety and community vibrancy, which of course we do.

      As far as the BRT for College, I think that is still tied up with the Indy Connect effort in the State House.

  • There is a petition in support of the Bent Rail Brewery. I am not sure how much it will help at this point.

    I would love to walk to this place (and i would) so 1 less car, also my wife would walk too, so actually 2 less cars!

    • Yup, I signed on. The good news is the fight isn’t over. Their appeal will be held on January 3rd, and they have revised their site plan (again) to cut down on the biergarten to include more parking. Kind of a bummer, but it is not surprising.

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