The Mayor’s Neighborhood Investment Plan

A few weeks ago, Mayor Ballard started a pitch known as the Neighborhood Investment Plan.  The plan calls for large investment in bike lanes, greenways, and sidewalks, as well as a similar amount devoted to more standard street projects.  I will remain neutral on the economics and politics behind the plan (and to be honest, those subjects are simply not my forte).  Instead, I’ll touch on some of the highlights of the potential improvements.  First, here is a look at the projects by township:











Some of the bigger individual projects in the proposal include:

    • Bike Lanes over the White River on Kessler Boulevard.  Bridges are sadly more often not barriers for cycling so it will be good to see this issue remedied.  Sidewalks may also be added in sections that desperately needs them near Meridian Street and the Monon Trail.
    • Bike Lanes on East 46th Street and Arlington Avenue.  These have likely been in the city’s short term plans for a while now.
    • Eagle Creek Greenway finally gets constructed.
    • Completion of the Fall Creek Trail from Meridian to 10th Street, and a new Pogue’s Run Trail.
    • A good amount of new sidewalks in Warren Township.

Unfortunately this plan gives even more fuel to the fire that the city has long favored the northside. The plans for southern Marion County are smaller in scope, and there are no new separated greenways or bike lanes.

I’m of the opinion that the city needs to make investments in its infrastructure, so in general I support this plan.  However, I can’t help but be a little concerned about the other parts of the map labeled “traffic” “intersection” and “street”.  One of the places labeled “street” is scheduled to be widened,  East 82nd Street past Hague Road.  I hope the city takes a look at these plans and figures out if they really want to encourage even more drivers on these roads, or if they can look for other alternatives first.  Road widening seems less like neighborhood investment and more like the status quo, which hasn’t done the city much good to date.

Regardless of whether or not the Mayor’s plan gets the green light, I do hope we find a way to continue the momentum for better cycling and pedestrian infrastructure in the city.  These improvements too important for the long-term future of the city to be jettisoned by political disagreements.

Comments 13

  • Kessler Boulevard passing over the White River, where you have a hill, high speeds and even a bend in the road at the tope of the hill is one of the most dangerous areas of the city to ride a bicycle. I’ve ridden it many times and have taken my life into my hands each time. Putting a bike lane in there does not help that and it might make it more hazardous by narrowing already narrow traffic lanes. That part of the city is in desperate need for a biking/walking path separated from traffic. That’s the only way you’re going to make biking in that area safe.

    • Total agreement. I applaud Indy’s recent enthusiasm for installing bike lanes, but we’ve got to start recognizing situations where a bike lane simply does not encourage anyone other than a young, risk-seeking male to ride their bike. Heavily traveled 40mph+ arterials are one of those places. If you want mom and the kids to get out and ride, you’ve got to spend the money, turn some dirt, and get the lane separated from traffic.

      That said, it’s an encouraging plan! We’ve got some nice momentum building.

    • Paul, I know we have plenty of disagreements both here and on IndyStar, but with this I think you are absolutely spot on.

      This is the perfect arterial for bikes to get west toward Eagle Creek, however traffic combined with the slope of the hill makes it very scary for anyone who’s not a hardened road cyclist.

      I’m not sure of the solution, however, as both sides of Kessler are the huge lots of Sunset Ln. An alternative route might be a pedestrian/bike bridge a little north from Illinois/Riverview directly into Holliday Park. From there, bike lanes along 64th to Grandview to get back to Fox Hill/Kessler. Thoughts?

  • Seems like there should be some abandoned road or railroad pylons in the White River up in that area somewhere.

  • Thanks for bringing this to our attention, Kevin. Absolutely, the capital improvements plan favors the north side over the south side. When I wrote the Emerson Avenue improvement article last year, people chalked it up to three major factors: 1) frequent lower population density, at least in Franklin and Decatur (the obvious one); 2) a consequential lower degree of wear and tear; 3) a SIGNIFICANTLY lower degree of neighborhood organization and push for direct accountability. Southsiders are much more likely to favor low government intervention, even when it comes to some pretty abysmal provision of city services. Huge swathes of the south side don’t have street lights at any point beyond major intersections; virtually no one seems to care.

    What will be interesting to me is if these sidewalk improvements recognize errors from the past and decide to build 1) on both sides of the street; and 2) they separate the sidewalks from the street with a planting strip. While I’ve always thought #1 is a more critical consideration than #2, I have noticed up here that even in the outer suburbs of Detroit (a very auto-dependent city as we all know), about 80% of the arterial and collector streets still have sidewalks, and about 95% of those sidewalks are separated from the curb with a grassy buffer, sometimes over 15′ wide.

    • It would be great if the City had in fact learned from its previous mistakes, as you say. Unfortunately, I’m not sure that the DPW has even yet acknowledged those past designs as mistakes. I don’t know if the DPW even agrees that having sidewalks separated from streets by tree lawns, grass buffers, or whatever one might call them is superior to the curb adjacent sidewalks they typically build.

      The vast array of reasons to design sidewalks that way are clearly spelled out in the Multi Modal Design Guidelines document that the City paid for several years ago, but that’s just a DMD/MPO planning document, and those are irrelevant to what DPW does.

  • You’d think it would be possible to convince DMD based on one thing: tree lawns provide snow/ice storage and the possibility that the melt won’t all enter the storm sewers…some of it will infiltrate instead of running off.

  • I’d love to see some maps just like these simply showing the current existence or non-existence of sidewalks and curbs.

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