INDOT announces preferred plan for I-65/I-70 North Split reconstruction

INDOT's North Split plan
INDOT announces North Split plan

INDIANAPOLIS — The Indiana Department of Transportation is putting out its preferred plan to reconstruct the I-65/I-70 North Split in downtown Indianapolis.

INDOT says the reconstruction will improve bridge and pavement conditions, correct the most severe safety problems and improve operations.

INDOT claims the proposed plan will minimize the footprint of the interchange and not add lanes to the North Split.

“INDOT listened to all input and incorporated as many suggestions as possible. Our goal in developing this preliminary preferred alternative remains balancing the need to address safety and aging infrastructure with community impacts,” said Joe McGuinness, commissioner of the Indiana Department of Transportation.

The project will include modern bridges, wider sidewalks, improved aesthetics, and enhanced landscaping.

“This preliminary design is a testament to the legitimate concerns of Indianapolis neighborhoods who have felt the generational impact of the urban interstate system, and INDOT’s genuine willingness to listen and ensure their plans reflected that feedback. Residents should be encouraged by this kind of collaboration, and we can be proud of the initial plans it has resulted in," said Mayor Joe Hogsett.

Ever since INDOT announced plans last fall to rebuild the North Split, a coalition of neighborhood, civic and other groups has been urging INDOT to rethink downtown's interstates.

'Rethink 65-70' signs are prominent in the Old Northside and other neighborhoods in or bordering downtown and those behind the initiative, it's less about the need to replacing and reconfiguring the aging north split bridges and ramps and more about finding better ways to get people to, through and around downtown.

INDOT will host a public open house on Wednesday, October 10 from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. at Arsenal Technical High School (1500 E Michigan St, Indianapolis, IN 46202). Durign that meeting INDOT will describe the process of evaluating alternatives and the results of its analysis.

Public comment on the alternatives screening report will be accepted through Monday, October 29.

The interstate is right up on the door of Rachel Bowles' shop. The idea of widening 65 is, for her, just a terrible plan.

"I mean, it's moving 50 feet forward. Our doorstep is going to be the interstate. And that's not okay," she said.

Ask practically anyone who works or lives near the split and you'll find the feelings are universal.

"It should be something that relies more on the neighbors and the neighbors that live in there," said Unai Miguel Andres, who lives near the highway

The signs about it are everywhere, an organized effort - with the backing of government leaders, even the Chamber of Commerce - asking INDOT to rethink 65/70.

It appears the messaging worked.

"And the direction of the project really is the result of months of community conversation and public input," said INDOT's Scott Manning.

INDOT issued a revised plan on Friday.

"We're doing it in a way that doesn't add any additional new lanes to the north split and also doesn't widen the highway and expand beyond the footprint that is there today," Manning said.

So for many, Friday's announcement felt like a victory.

"So they're not going to ad forward? That's amazing! I am like very happy for that because I think it was a ridiculous idea," said Bowles

Andres agreed.

"I think it's great news because we will be able still have the highway separated from the neighborhood itself."

"Usually, the government just does it. Like, 'oh we love your input but we're still going to do this' so I am actually very happy that they are doing that, Bowles said.

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