Converted from paper version of the Broad Ripple Gazette (v16n05)
IndyGo Red Line update
by Alan Hague
posted: Mar. 01, 2019
It was standing room only at the February 19 public meeting for the IndyGo Red Line update meeting held at the Indianapolis Art Center. Bryan Luellen, Vice President of Public Affairs at IndyGo, ran the meeting. As a background, the Red Line is the first phase (later to include the Purple and Blue Lines, and neighboring county Red Lines) of an IndyGo transit improvement system that uses a dedicated bus lane and elevated stations to provide for reliable, 10 minute departures.
Bryan gave a brief overview of Phase One of the Red Line project, "Construction began in June of last year, and the corridors under construction are Shelby, Virginia, Capital, Maryland, 18th, 38th, and College. It's 13.5 miles from Broad Ripple through downtown to the University of Indianapolis.
"There are 28 station locations, buses come every 10 minutes for 20 hours a day. The vehicles operating will be 60-foot electric buses. Projected ridership is 11,000 trips per day. Stations are elevated. Buses operate at grade, on the street level. There will be ticket vending machines, real-time arrivals, all of the stations are ADA accessible.
"Each of the transit signals at the intersections will have communication with the bus to give a little priority to the vehicle, which help speed the service. The travel time from 66th Street to downtown will be about 20 to 25 minutes which is competitive with driving."
Bryan explained that at the last IndyGo board meeting, the accelerated construction plan for College Avenue was authorized, which has brought more work crews to the whole corridor to reduce the construction schedule by four months. The acceleration agreement was finalized in January, with final approval by the board of directors in February.
IndyGo announced the traffic impacts of the accelerated plan on February 5th. Acceleration began on the 11th. The goal of this plan is to have the Red Line operating by late summer.
Bryan explained the scope of the construction, "On College Avenue there will be seven transit stations that will be under construction. Improvements are beyond the transit stations and include new sidewalks, curb cuts, drainage which is critical for this area, we know, new crosswalks, improved traffic signals, and pavement resurfacing for the whole corridor from 38th to 66th. Station locations on College Avenue will be at 66th Street, Broad Ripple Avenue, Kessler Boulevard, 54th, 52nd, 46th, and 42nd Streets. Trenching along the edges to hold the storm water infrastructure as well as some of the work on the pedestrian connections.
"Right now the crews are working mainly from 50th to 66th, at the station areas. In March, their work will continue south and spread from 50th to 38th Street. Part of the acceleration plan does include a six-day work week. Work will occur occasionally on Sunday. There will be night time paving operations to minimize traffic interruptions. For safety, speed limits in the work zones is 25 MPH.
"The duration of these pieces of the work, sidewalks, drainage, utilities, curb modifications are going to last through April. Station work will happen through June. Pavement resurfacing will fall after the stations are complete in June and July and full completion is scheduled before Labor Day.
"On-street parking will be permitted in all areas except where active construction is happening. You can park next to construction barrels, you just can't park inside the construction barrels. Some temporary turn restrictions may be necessary as the work progresses. One lane of traffic will be open in each direction except for 2 to 4 hour periods periodically when the more intense work of setting the station roof on and pouring the concrete.
"For residents, we always know that trash is a question. You will place your trash in the normal place that you do, if your trash barrel is inside of a construction zone, then our work crews will move it to a place where it can be removed. Driveways, by and large, access will be maintained. There will be some locations where driveways will be disrupted. If your driveway access will be disrupted, you will get direct communication from the contractor.
"Again, parking will be permitted except inside of the construction zones. In those areas the contractors will install no parking signs. If you do park near a construction zone and plan to leave it there for any period of time, we ask that you leave your phone number on the dash so that if they do need to move the construction zone."
Following this informational portion of the meeting, the floor was opened to questions from the attendees. It was clear that there was a lot of anger in the crowd. There were many frustrated comments from business owners and residents about the project and how it is impacting them.
There was a lengthy discussion about the Red Line safety plan. Many elderly attendees expressed concern because this plan had not yet been made public. Those residents were questioning how an EMS vehicle will be able to get to their homes quickly to respond to a heart attack, for example, after the traffic congestion rises due to the loss of a driving lane on College Avenue. The plan describes how all forms of emergency vehicles can gain access to homes and businesses along College Avenue as needed during events such as fire, medical emergency, crime, etc. IndyGo agreed at the meeting to put this safety plan on the website.
IndyGo is implementing a new fare system this summer. It uses a tap card that can be reloaded at vending machines. The tap card will allow for free 2-hour transfers. It will also contain ID and reduced fare eligibility information for the rider. The fare cards will be available at no charge for a start-up period. Full fare will be $1.75. The tap cards allow the rider to accumulate fares used so the system can cap fare charges to $4 daily and $15.75 weekly, allowing for rider savings.
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Stacks of new storm sewer drainage along College Avenue. This system is being upgraded as the Red Line construction progresses.