Red Line moves forward as opponents raise questions about safety

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INDIANAPOLIS (WTHR) - Plans for the city's first rapid transit bus route are moving forward, despite continuing efforts to put the brakes on it.

Thursday, IndyGo put construction of the $97-million project up to bid.

The Red Line is to run 13-miles from Broad Ripple to the University of Indianapolis, providing faster and more frequent service than IndyGo's traditional bus service.

But opponents say it's not a done deal yet.

Chuck Mack, who owns Moe and Johnny's at 54th and College calls the plan "dangerous."

Mack said he while he wants "improved transportation... what they've chose to do, this iteration, is not safe and it's unnecessary. There are safe ways to do this."

Mack is among the two dozen businesses losing a portion of their property to eminent domain.

He said he'll lose seven of his 34 parking spaces and most of his drive-in access off College, which will make it harder for his customers to find parking at an intersection busy with bars and restaurants.

But he said his biggest concern is safety.

"This is not safe because you don't have enough space to do all of this, it doesn't fit," he said.

With the Red Line, College will go from three traffic lanes to two, with parking lanes for the most part, remaining on both sides of the street.

The rapid transit buses will run in the center lane with elevated bus stops every few blocks or so.

Pointing to the Street Mack said, "here's why it's not going to be safe. There's going to be a curb in the middle and curbs" on this side of the street and the other side.

The curb in the middle of the bus lane is to keep cars out of the bus lane and from crossing it via a left-hand turn. But Mack says what happens when say, a fire truck or ambulance needs to get thru and they can't get around traffic or delivery trucks parked on the side of the street?

"The plan for the emergency vehicles to get by these is they're going to jump this curb" in the middle, he said.

IndyGo's Bryan Luellen said that's right but added, "it's been designed to be safe. Actually the four-inch curb in the center of the lane is designed with a beveled edge and to be mounted."

And, it will be about two inches shorter than most of the surrounding curbs, which measure about six-inches high.

Luellen said, "the lanes and safety considerations have all been reviewed by the Federal Transit Administration which is the funding agency and they've signed off on the safety considerations. We've also coordinated locally with IMPD and IFD on Emergency response, what the infrastructure changes would do and how we work together once the service is in operation."

But Mack isn't giving up.

"I belong to a collective that's hired an attorney to press the issue of safety and get people to pay attention to it," he said. "Don't put bigger buses here, put smaller buses here. There are any number of ways to improve this. It's just too small."

Luellen said IndyGo's board will likely sign off on the winning bid in early December with construction starting in January. He said the goal is to have the Red Line up and running in spring of 2019.