Low Hanging Fruit: Return Alabama and New Jersey to 2-Way Streets

Sometime in the near future, the city should be making a decision on which of the proposals they have received for the Market Square Arena site to accept.  Courtesy of an idea that I first read from Urban Indy blogger Chris Corr, I’m posting this as a hope for some forethought to the street environment surrounding the former MSA.

As I have displayed on the map below, the Market Square Arena site is flanked by very short one way segments of Alabama and New Jersey streets. Alabama is 6 blocks long, and New Jersey is 5 blocks long. How much can be gained in this configuration? The best argument I can think of might be that it is currently set up to handle Banker’s Life Fieldhouse traffic, but since those are programmed events, traffic cops and cones could shift lane priorities when needed.


This change should be relatively easy to implement. The worst case scenario for the MSA site would include a design that would help cement these short stretches of street as one ways for the foreseeable future, such as a car entrance from the left side of the street as seen in Circle Centre Mall. I’m hoping the city will avoid that, and instead go the opposite direction with Alabama and New Jersey Streets.

Comments 14

  • This owes something to the recent Eric McAfee/American Dirt analysis of that Alabama-to-NJ segment of Maryland St. also.

    One big advantage would be tremendously improved access to the Marsh/True Value block.

  • New Jersey is a no-brainer. I don’t see any transportation justification for that street being one-way.

    Alabama does have fairly high traffic volume on the FCParkway->Central->Ft. Wayne->Alabama morning commute route, but it doesn’t warrant 3 southbound lanes. In fact, Alabama doesn’t even truly have 3 southbound lanes; it has 2 through lanes and a series of left-turn-only lanes. It could easily be argued that the left-turn-only lane should be converted to a northbound lane. That’s the inverse configuration of College that carries a significantly higher volume of traffic than Alabama.

    What’s really amazing is that Alabama wasn’t converted when the CT east corridor was constructed. If the CT were built today, I think conversion would have been a slam-dunk.

  • Good point about the need to not solidify these one-ways through a Washington Street Circle Center type garage entry at the MSA redevelopment. Surely, the Mayor’s inner circle of decision-makers are regular readers of Urban Indy, right?

  • Glad you mentioned this, Kevin. These two streets would get my second place vote to be converted back to two-way. (My top vote is College Avenue, particularly the stretch south of Washington St where being one-way is a liability to Fletcher Place, but really the whole thing could easily go two-way.) But, since Alabama and (particularly) New Jersey don’t go all that far north, they don’t really serve as arterials and barely function as collector roads. No good justification for keeping them, particularly since, as you mention, law enforcement can direct traffic after major events.

    One tiny snag: technically speaking, Alabama continues southbound under the parking garage, until it meets Virginia Avenue. It’s not well known or well marked (probably deliberately so) but I use that segment all the time. However, it’s only one-way south and would be difficult to convert to two-way given the existing configuration and street width.

    • I definitely agree with all of that. Having a convenient path between Fletcher Place and Near Northside would be a very important connection. The lack of continuity across Washington is a sad situation.

  • All these streets, including Delaware, should be grouped with the same activism. There needs to be more widespread initiative than just saying this street here or this street there should be two way. Make the city justify one-way commuter streets at all in this area because it’s likely rooted in some simplistic plan from the 1980’s or before that hasn’t been looked at in a long time.

    • About the only street that I’ve heard a good case for keeping one way is Washington since it got a pretty significant road diet with the Cultural Trail coming through. Other than that, I say go two way with College, New Jersey, Alabama, Delaware, Pennsylvania, Illinois, Capitol, Maryland, New York, and Michigan.

      And I’d vote for Washington two way in any case.

    • I think the big arterials very near the core, which are loaded up with parking garage entrance/exits, probably need to remain one way to facilitate traffic flow. It’s generally a good idea to give drivers only one option exiting garages at rush hour.

      It’s not as if these streets have inhospitable ped environments…every one has extremely wide sidewalks and most have curb parking.

      • “It’s generally a good idea to give drivers only one option exiting garages at rush hour.

        Ok, so make all the exits from the garages right turn only. Or, alternatively, Meridian makes it work just fine with the Merchants Garage allowing turns in both directions with a person holding traffic. My preference would be the first option.

        It’s not as if these streets have inhospitable ped environments…every one has extremely wide sidewalks and most have curb parking.

        I think you are confounding what makes these streets inhospitable. If the only goal for these streets was to get from one end of the street to the other, than having wide sidewalks and curb parking would be fine. However, I want there to be things along those streets that are consumer friendly (dining, retail, grocery stores, etc). I don’t know exactly what the design is for the new Marsh at Block 400, but I’m guessing the main entrance will be on Vermont (or the garage), not Michigan, Illinois, or Capitol. The Mass Ave Marsh faces toward the parking lot, not Alabama. The Central Library has entrances on St Clair and 9th. There are many dining and entertainment options on Meridian south of the circle, but very few successes along Maryland (how many false starts have occurred at Lorenzo’s or Dick’s Last Resort?). Capitol and Illinois are lined with non-consumer oriented businesses such as law firms, banks, dry cleaners, engineering firms. Who is going to put outdoor dining along one of those expressways?

        Occasionally you’ll find a Buca or City Cafe along those streets but they are the exception (and I’ve never been to City Cafe and can’t tell you the last time I was at Buca).

        Bottomline in my rant: Two ways slow traffic which cuts noise and leads to a more friendly environment. And like I said, I see no real arguments that would convince me that we really need them.

        • I’m always generally a fan of conversion to two-way traffic, and I like your idea of requiring a real justification for each one-way. Having said that, I think the justification for some of the one-ways downtown might be made, especially with the need to move large amounts of traffic after events. But then again, maybe I’m just not thinking outside the box enough to imagine a one-way free downtown.

          At any rate, I would still prioritize eliminating the one-ways outside of downtown first. An interesting case though would be New York & Michigan. I’ve long advocated for converting them east of I-65/70, but I always assumed they’d remain one-way downtown until IUPUI created a plan recommending that they be converted to two-way through campus. I could still foresee the area between West and Pine remaining one-way, since there are generally only two travel lanes on each street, and with stoplights at every corner, you really could limit speeds appropriately, if only the City would time the lights at or below the posted 25MPH speed limit.

          • I guess I go different places downtown, ahow.

            East has a cluster of stuff north of Mass Ave., including sidewalk dining at Henry’s and Aesop’s.

            Michigan has Lockerbie Pub and the Athanaeum/Rathskeller.

            NY has Amici’s and the Great Divide.

            Illinois has Panera, Weber Grill (outdoor dining), Buca, Le Peep and Acapulco Joe’s, and further north Downtown Olly’s.

            Penn has Scotty’s (outdoor), City Cafe, which is a walk-in power-breakfast spot owing to the nearby political party offices; further north is the Elbow Room, Urban Element & Datas Pizza (both with outdoor dining), Living Room Lounge and whatever the street-level place in the Ambassador is called now, plus

            Delaware has Barcelona Tapas, though its outdoor dining is on the Ohio side.

            Most of these places are long-established and seem to be doing fairly well despite all the “inhospitable” streets and traffic outside their front doors.

          • Not going to substantially insert myself into this one-way discussion from an ideology perspective as I have done that elsewhere, but I will comment on some of the businesses used as examples……

            Lockerbie Pub and The Rathskeller both have outdoor dining in the rear, LePeep is only a breakfast/lunch operation very similar to Panera, Acupulco Joe’s has dining on Vermont, Scotty’s is addressed as 1 Virginia and has dining well setback from Penn and is adjacent to Virginia and the CT, City Cafe is closed on Sundays and has limited hours otherwise, Elbow Room has outdoor dining along Ft. Wayne (still a 1 way at that point but not the same class), Urban Element close a long time ago and is now Panorama Grill after a few years of vacancy, Datsa Pizza just for clarification, The thing in the Ambassador……well…….who knows really what to classify that as but they have attempted outdoor dining along 9th.

            I will add Goose the Market at Delaware and 25th has dining on 25th and the owner has said he would do breakfast if not for a 1-way out of the city. There are plenty of examples os whatever you would like to prove because the city has so many 1-ways, yet there are still enough people here to support business that you will get businesses on these streets.

  • Flaherty & Collins apparently reads Urban Indy. Who knew!

    • Actually, we did know that :P.

      We must remember that these are just visual approximations, and a lot has to happen to actually convert these streets. Fortunately, we now have more fuel to the fire to fight for two way street conversions along New Jersey and Alabama,

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