Speedway Roundabout

The large new roundabout at the intersection of 16th Street, Crawfordsville Road, and Main Street has been completed, and I was able to get a glimpse of it recently. It is so new that it isn’t complete on the most recent Google aerial photo:


Aesthetically, the intersection’s redesign is a major improvement. Indy unfortunately has a lot of “I’d rather be anywhere else than here right now” intersections, and this was likely in the top 10:


Now it has brick crosswalks, new steel benches, street signs, and lamp posts. And people have better access the newly redesigned Main Street. Previously, Crawfordsville Road acted as a moat between the Main Street and the actual IMS area:

Speedway's Main Street has better access to the rest of the town.
Speedway’s Main Street has better access to the rest of the town.

15 - 13

15 - 17

Brick crosswalks are a nice touch.
Brick crosswalks are a nice touch.

There’s also a path that runs parallel to Crawfordsville Road that appears to be intended for cyclists and pedestrians, although there are no signs pointing this out that I’ve seen:

Connection to a biking and walking path
Connection to a biking and walking path

Unfortunately, this leads to my greatest criticism of the redesign. They built all this nice pedestrian and bicycle infrastructure, but the roundabout improves the speed of traffic flow to the point where it feels like it may still be dangerous to actually cross the street on foot or bike. If the roundabout could have been made a bit tighter, or maybe paved in brick with markings (like a mini Monument Circle), this project would have been more of a success for all modes. As it stands, I suppose it is a fitting gateway to the real racetrack on the northeast corner.

I always question benches placed near the spot of quickly moving vehicles.
I always question unshaded benches placed near the spot of quickly moving vehicles.

Comments 20

  • I am not sure I see any logic in using a roundabout with only three legs of traffic…unless there is a future plan to relocate Georgetown Road further west from the IMS grandstands and reconnect it to the roundabout. I recall an early plan did that.

    • Well, Carmel does it all the time :).

      My biggest concern is that the city tries to slam a new road through the neighborhood on the east of the track to replace the closed down Georgetown Road. It has been floated a few times (page 3-19).

      • I’d be in favor of a much lower-impact relocation straight west, to the former west property lines of the lots platted on Georgetown, if only for event security reasons.

        I probably haven’t been the only person since 2001 thinking about a terrorist bombing attack behind the main straightaway grandstands…and was very nervous about it at the first (F-1) race a week or two after 9/11.

        But I also agree that side of town needs another north-south connection to 38th and points north, and IMS owns much of the west face of Georgetown up to 30th; I’d guess that they would gladly trade their land for a new road, to put the existing street inside their fence.

      • I never understood the configuration of Holt Road essentially terminating at Olin Road. Would it be better plan to extend Holt Road by turning west south of 10th Street and then following the creek to an intersection with 16th Street? This would not disrupt the neighborhood but might displace a business or two on 10th Street. The intersection with 16th would then be right across from the Brickyard Crossing and provide better access from I70 for the potential new development.

        • In the plan Kevin referenced, Holt was to extend northward all the way to 38th in the vicinity of Cold Spring School and Marian U. If you go to the MapIndy app (http://maps.indy.gov/MapIndy/index.html) and zoom in on the 1986 aerial photo of that area you can see the stub of an eastbound on-ramp to 38th, and when driving it you used to be able to see a break in the guardrail west of Crooked Creek for the off-ramp.

          • Another reason that I’m still suspicious about the possibility of the Holt Road extension in the future: The new solar field north of 21st Street has left enough room for a road to be built between it and the railroad tracks.

          • Interesting. That certainly won’t happen today given the

            What do others think about extending Holt Road to 16th Street? Holt Road is an under-used asset currently.

    • Kind of seems dumb not to connect Georgetown with the roundabout, unless it would make the traffic much worse or hamper the pedestrian movements. There’s a general lack of north-south roads on the west side and having to backtrack to Lynhurst and 25th Street seems like your adding traffic in other areas, unless people have just found new ways to get around. On a map it just seems odd.

      Personally, I think they need to give Georgetown a “Georgia Street-like” makeover and turn it into a promenade-like boulevard, either two or four lanes, whichever it should be and they connect it with the roundabout and build the road with the same aesthetics and features as they did Main Street. They can then install barriers (like on Georgia Street) that can be put into place when they want the street to be closed around race days.

    • I can’t say I disagree with you, Chris, but I will offer an opinion. Roundabouts work well in a number of situations, including unusual intersections (not perfect crosses). The original configuration was one of the most unusual in the area given the high volume and proximity to the largest sporting venue IN THE WORLD! haha. If Georgetown were still in play, it would likely make the decision clearer. That being said, I think it was a fair option for the intersection, though I don’t agree with removing Georgetown. Probably one of those things were the circle looked pretty on the map, with a fountain and sculpture in the middle, so that’s what shaped the decision as much as anything else.

  • As someone who works right next to the Speedway/Main Street and frequently passed through this intersection on my old commute, I think this roundabout was successful on a few levels:
    a) Traffic flows much smoother through here. Waits are much shorter and other drivers seem less confused than previously…although I agree with Kevin that it is now a little too fast.
    b) Main Street is much more accessible. I’ve actually made it a point to check out the restaurants over there. Previously I could easily drive past without even noticing it.
    c) Pedestrian crossing across Crawfordsville and 16th St is less intimidating. However, I think crossing Main St at the roundabout is probably more intimidating now. Then again, you can easily cross Main Street at any other point.

    • I ran the Mini a few years back and when I was running up Main St, I was like, “WTF is this?!?” I seriously had no idea Speedway had a Main St or that it was a thing.

  • Still waiting on that ROI for all the money put into tiny downtown Speedway

    • Daredevil Brewery relocated their headquarters to Main Street from Shelbyville, Dallara opened a new race car chassis manufacturer on Main Street, There is a new health center on Main Street, There are 5 or more new restaurants that opened on Main Street, Allisons has invested significantly in their campus including expansions and aesthetics, Fisher-Hartman Racing opened their headquarters on Main Street, there are new development plans released for the “Rosner building” to add apartments and businesses on Main Street, Praxair has made improvements on Main Street. Kroger underwent a significant renovation and expansion, there are plans for a significant new development near the interchange of Crawfordsville Rd, I-465 and I-74, there has been a large increase in the recreational amenities for residents and Main Street is significantly safer and more attractive for people and investment. In addition, the neighborhood of “Old Town Speedway” has seen a fair increase in investment and desirability.

      It is true that a lot of the above have been greeted with subsidy and abatement, but that is a lot of change for a 10-year time period.

    • …and now Big Woods Brewery 😉

  • Speaking of Speedway, has anyone else noticed the complete lack of signage on I-465’s west side touting the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and which exit takes you there? Yes, there is green exit sign for “Speedway” (as in the town) but it’s easy to miss and may not be recognized as being the route to the iconic IMS.

  • This is an issue everywhere outside of downtown Indy. Also on the west leg of 465, there are no signs for Eagle Creek Park. On the east leg of 465, there is minimal signage for Fort Harrison State Park, and none for the Little League central region ball fields, the Lawrence soccer park, or any city park….all significant destinations for people who don’t know their way around the city.

    Ohio uses those big brown signs, that in the Interstate scheme of things designate an attraction. Usually they point to a state or metro park, but also the state fairgrounds and the state university and the science and industry museum in Columbus.

    Indiana doesn’t much use the brown scheme on the Marion County interstates, at least not widely. The “exit for attraction” signs for LOS, Fieldhouse, and City Market are all in green. Likewise the signs ahead of the MLK exit from I-65 for IUPUI. Curiously, there are brown IMA and Children’s Museum signs on 65 ahead of MLK/30th, the only ones I recall seeing in Indy anywhere.

  • My wife and I drove through Speedway last week and decided we will go there for date night one of these weeks. It looks really nice.

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