INDOT sticking to north split reconstruction plan after system-level analysis findings

INDIANAPOLIS,Ind. - After nearly four months of evaluating other options, the Indiana Department of Transportation intends to stick to its original plan for addressing aging infrastructure and safety concerns at the city's I-65/70 north split.

Last fall, INDOT announced the Indianapolis North Split would see a massive overhaul, with major changes to one of the busiest stretches of Indiana interstate. The work would begin as early as 2020, with an estimated cost of at least $250 million, according to INDOT's plan.

The news was met with opposition from residents, who have formed the Rethink 65/70 Coalition. The group wanted alternatives solutions to fixing the road that INDOT said has had roughly 1,600 crashes over five years.

Concerned residents first heard some of the alternatives in January.

That conversation led INDOT to conduct a system-level analysis, to look at what would come of each suggestion. Overall, INDOT looked at seven concepts, with four of them stemming from the public.

“We think we’ve done a service to the community in providing information on performance, cost and impact," said John Myers, an associate vice president at HNTB, the engineering firm working with the department of transportation on the project.

The concepts included several idea, such as implementing boulevards, tunnels, and re-routing traffic to other parts of the city. Some ideas were taken from success stories other cities have had across the country.

A chart of each concept can be found here.

INDOT leaders felt none of the options were better to address the immediate need.

“Our focus now because of the public safety concerns and the aging infrastructure is to move forward with the north split project," said INDOT spokesperson Scott Manning. "That doesn’t preclude conversations about the future from continuing on, and I think another benefit of this analysis that we performed  is we have a common set of facts that we can work with as that conversation continues.”

It's news the coalition didn't want to hear, though Marsh Davis was pleased residents were given a chance to give some feedback before study began.

"These seven options, not one of them addresses the real issue here," Davis said. "This is more than just a transportation issue."

Davis said the coalition understands safety issues need addressed, but the complete overhaul should have a better plan. Residents can voice their thoughts until June 7. That includes an open house on Wednesday, May 23, at the Biltwell Event Center, located at 950 S. White River Parkway S. Drive.

The event runs from 3-7 p.m., with presentations taking place at 4 p.m. and 6 p.m.

“There are steps that can be taken before you do a whole scale revision of the interstate and we want to make sure what is done here is forward looking and anticipates some of the rapidly occurring changes in transportation.”

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