Feds provide $2M to study reconnecting Indy neighborhoods
The Department of Transportation is providing $2 million for a study on the south split of Interstate 65/Interstate 70 in downtown Indianapolis, in hopes of reversing some of the damage done to neighborhoods harmed by the original highway construction.
The grant announced Tuesday will fund a study on the possibility of capping the recessed segments of Interstates 65 and 70 in the inner loop, near the Fletcher Place and Fountain Square neighborhoods. Capping refers to building a type of deck bridge on top of a roadway to create new surface area for development.
The original Indianapolis inner loop construction in the 1970s displaced 17,000 people and destroyed more than 8,000 businesses and homes, according to the Department of Transportation.
The ultimate intent of the grant is to create an attractive southeast front door to Indianapolis with improved interstate functionality, community connectivity, economic development and private investment, according to Tuesday’s announcement.
The total cost of the study is expected to be $2.75 million.
The $2 million grant award will be matched with $250,000 of in-kind services from Indy Chamber and local not-for-profit Rethink Coalition Inc., which will serve as the project manager of the study. Another $500,000 in matching funds will be contributed from the city of Indianapolis.
The Indiana Department of Transportation, which owns and manages the interstate system, will collaborate on the study to ensure that interstate commerce and regional connectivity are maintained.
Originally created in 2017 in reaction to the state’s plans for redesigning the north split, Rethink Coalition Inc. now is focused on leading community-wide engagement and education addressing future inner-loop reconstruction.
In 2021, Rethink Coalition and the Indy Chamber put together a $2.8 billion proposal to rebuild the highways partially underground.
The planning study is one of 45 projects nationwide that received $185 million in funding from the Reconnecting Communities Pilot Program, which is part of the federal Bipartisan Infrastructure Law.
“Transportation should connect, not divide, people and communities,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg in a release. “We are proud to announce the first grantees of our Reconnecting Communities Program, which will unite neighborhoods, ensure the future is better than the past, and provide Americans with better access to jobs, health care, groceries and other essentials.”