Rapid Transit Process Moving Ahead

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The organization advocating rapid transit in central Indiana has announced a pair of alternative recommendations. Indy Connect's proposed routes would run between Carmel and Greenwood and between Cumberland and Indianapolis International Airport. The plan will now undergo environmental review. October 16, 2013

News Release

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. - The Indy Connect studies of the Red and Blue Rapid Transit lines have reached another major milestone as the project teams recommend alternatives that will be carried forward. The Indianapolis Regional Transportation Council heard the recommended alternatives at a meeting this morning.

In August, the project took the preliminary alternatives to the public for input. "With that public input, along with more technical analysis, alternatives have been refined, decisions made and we're ready to move to the next phase of planning," said Anna Tyszkiewicz Gremling, executive director of the Indianapolis Metropolitan Planning Organization.

The next phase of the planning process is an environmental review.

Separate from the Indy Connect planning process, the Central Indiana Transit Study Committee is looking at the funding issue. Its next meeting is Oct. 31 at 9 a.m. at the Indiana Statehouse.

The recommended alternatives for the two lines follow.

Red Line recommended alternative

The Red Line runs north and south, between Carmel and Greenwood through downtown Indianapolis.

Starting from the north, the 25-mile route runs from Carmel City Center along City Center Drive to Pennsylvania Street. From there, project teams had been looking at connecting to College Avenue via Meridian Street or Pennsylvania Parkway. A data analysis determined that Pennsylvania Street/Parkway would likely outperform Meridian Street; therefore Meridian Street was removed from further consideration. During the public involvement process in August, stakeholders suggested seriously considering Illinois Street rather than Pennsylvania Street for the corridor between 96th and 116th streets due to the high density of employment. Though a data analysis comparing Illinois and Pennsylvania Streets has not yet occurred, the team will continue investigating both options and arrive at a decision by the end of the December.

The route will run south on College Avenue to 38th Street. Public comment and continued analysis will help solidify route recommendations south of 38th Street to 16th Street, which vary between using Meridian Street or the Capitol Avenue/Illinois Street pair. South of 16th Street, the Capitol Avenue/Illinois Street pair and Washington/Maryland Street pair will be used to reach the Downtown Transit Center.

From the Downtown Transit Center, the route will run southeast using primarily Virginia Avenue, with a slight deviation onto East and McCarty Streets, to a combination of Shelby Street and Madison Avenue, ending just south of Smith Valley Road in Greenwood.

Recommendations call for 30-40 bus rapid transit stations along the entire route, with stops located north of 38th Street and south of South Street approximately every mile and between 38th Street and South Street approximately every half-mile. Bus rapid transit vehicles, which look, operate, and feel like a light rail vehicle and are essentially light rail without the tracks, is the recommended vehicle that would operate on the Red line.

Blue Line recommended alternative

The 24-mile Blue Line will be a bus rapid transit service that runs east and west between Cumberland and the Indianapolis International Airport through downtown Indianapolis. The route primarily uses Washington Street, with 32 stations spaced approximately every half-mile to mile along the route.

Initial service will focus east of downtown where some of the highest ridership in the region already exists. Service will begin in Cumberland and extend through downtown to a turnaround near the former Central State Hospital site at Tibbs Avenue. The Indianapolis International Airport would be served by a new Express Bus utilizing I-70, as well as IndyGo's Route 8 service.

Blue Line service will operate with other traffic in the existing outside lanes of Washington Street. Stations will have improved shelters and amenities, raised platforms and off-board fare collection.

These features, coupled with signal priority and stations that are further apart, will cut travel time by more than 20 percent compared to the current Route 8 service. The Blue Line will also provide real-time customer information, Wi-Fi and larger, more comfortable vehicles.

Next steps

The Indy Connect plan will be shared during an open house and a free webinar.

The open house is on Nov. 14 between 11:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. at the Indianapolis Artsgarden. To take an IndyGo bus to the open house, visit www.Indygo.net to plan your trip or call 317-635-3344. Bilingual support and sign language interpretation will be available. Residents can call 317-327-5136 to request additional accommodations and services.

The webinar is on Oct. 30 at noon. Anyone with Internet access can participate in the Webinar. Planners will explain the rationale behind the recommended alternatives on the Red and Blue Rapid Transit Lines and take questions. To register, visit www.indyconnect.org/pages/Stay-Connected/. The Webinar will be recorded and posted on the Indy Connect website after the event.

About Indy Connect

When fully implemented, the Indy Connect plan will add five rapid transit lines, double the current local bus service, and add express bus routes and community circulators. It would complement IndyGo's Downtown Transit Center, a project currently underway that will serve as a central downtown hub for destinations, boardings and transfers.

Indy Connect is a partnership of the Indianapolis Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO), the Central Indiana Regional Transportation Authority (CIRTA) and IndyGo. For more information, visit us at www.indyconnect.org, or join us on Facebook

(http://www.facebook.com/IndyConnect) and Twitter (@IndyConnect).

Source: Indy Connect