INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – A closure on one the city's main roads downtown could cause some headaches for drivers, but reps from Citizens Energy Group say it’s a necessary step to clean up Indy's waterways.
From Jan. 2 through Oct. 31, 2018, Meridian Street will be closed at 28th Street for the DigIndy tunnel project. In addition, 28th Street will be closed east of Illinois Street to Pennsylvania Street during the same time period. The closure will begin after the Tuesday morning rush hour.
According to Citizens Energy Group, detour routes will be posted at 30th Street from the north and Fall Creek Parkway from the south.
"Through October!? This is Meridian you get a lot of traffic on Meridian," said a frustrated driver.
The project includes two large sewers (325 feet of 36-inch pipe and 560 feet of 60-inch pipe) designed to capture and divert combined sewer overflows from Fall Creek Tunnel, a portion of the DigIndy Tunnel System set for completion by 2025. Work will include the restoration of sidewalks, curbs, and pavement.
The closure will allow crews to start working on the next phase of the DigIndy tunnel system. The Meridian Street closure is just a piece of the $2 billion dollar project, led by Citizens Energy Group.
Right now, there’s an issue with what they call a combined sewer overflow. When there is a heavy rain event, some raw sewage can end up in the waterways, which can make people sick and keep them from enjoying our local rivers and streams.
That’s why crews are building a system of tunnels: 28 miles long, 18-foot diameter deep and 250 feet under the city. The first 10 miles of the tunnel system just opened at the end of December, Citizens reps say our waterways will look a lot different when this project is complete.
“When it’s done in 2025, we will have cleaned up our waterways to levels not seen in 100 years, so that’s really exciting. It’s going to be a pain the meantime, but this project is going to eventually benefit the citizens of Indy for generations to come,” Citizens Energy Group spokesperson Laura O’Brien said.
While the crews focus o the waterways underground, drivers will most likely be stuck in traffic back up on the roads.
The closures are not just affecting your commute but also businesses, like the Jimmy Johns near 25th and Meridian.
"We are definitely going to be making some new routes," said Jimmy Johns General Manager Colin Sturgill.
Sturgill tells us his team uses Meridian to make at least 70% of their deliveries and hopes it does not affect their delivery times.
"I do not know how it is going to affect our sales yet but I hope that it does not," said Sturgill.
The project is federally mandated. Citizens Energy Group entered into a consent decree with the Department of Justice and the EPA.
Citizens reps say they weren’t actually planning to do this phase on Meridian for another 5 years, but they moved this phase up, coordinating with the IndyGo Red Line Project to reduce the number of closures for drivers. They say the project will restore area rivers and streams, revitalize communities and spur economic development.