For a few years now, IndyGo’s Red Line Phase I project has been at the forefront of news and neighborhood conversations. What every resident should know is that the Red Line plans are more complicated and nuanced than can accurately be conveyed in a 3-minute news story; and even the most well-intentioned neighbors and business owners are missing some vital information. Some of the claims being made about the project and its impacts are misleading at best; other claims are outright false. This is an effort to correct the record regarding recent public complaints made by Moe & Johnny’s owner, Chuck Mack. Full disclosure: Chuck Mack and I are dear friends. Despite our longtime friendship, we disagree fundamentally on the merits of this project. I am a staunch supporter of the Red Line and believe this valuable infrastructure will positively impact the future of our neighborhood and city.
No matter your opinion of transit or the Red Line, everyone deserves the facts.
What you heard: IndyGo is using eminent domain to take parking spots from private property at Moe and Jonny’s.
What’s happening: 4 parking spots along College situated on publicly owned land will be eliminated to make way for a new sidewalk and curb. Moe & Johnny’s will retain 30 spots (with 6 still positioned in the public right-of-way along 54th).
What you heard: IndyGo offered Moe & Johnny’s $800 for lost parking spots.
What’s happening: The compensation is for temporary use (not permanent acquisition) of a small (less than 10 sq. ft.) sliver of Moe & Johnny’s property, a short-term necessity to install an ADA accessible curb ramp at the corner of 54th and College. No land is being seized permanently, and after a few months of construction, the improved property will be returned to the owner.
What you heard: Moe & Johnny’s will lose its driveway from College into the parking lot.
What’s happening: A 130-foot-wide driveway onto College will be traded in for a new curb, a wheelchair friendly ground slope, and safer (albeit restricted) 32-foot driveway. Only 2 parking spots (those along the East side of the building) will lose access to Northbound College Ave. They will need to go through the one-way rear parking lot to access the alley and 54th Street, as the parking users do today.
What you heard: A foot-and-a-half elevated bus lane will create “a wall” down the center of College.
What’s happening: A small 4 inch “mountable” curb will be placed in the center of the bus only lane to deter cars from making unsafe turns. Emergency responders will have free use of the bus only lane, and the height of the curb will make maneuvering across the roadway completely possible.
As with any major project, there are some very vocal people in opposition, making every attempt to stop the project (the Monon and Cultural Trails come to mind). Every individual and group is entitled to express their opinion, and our democratic process is designed to amplify these voices. While vehemence of expression can be effective at drawing attention from the press, it certainly does not guarantee accuracy of fact. Every citizen in a free speech society should listen to the public discourse with skepticism and verify the facts personally before taking a position.
Red Line Construction Update
This project is moving forward. The time to debate the validity, route, concept, or return on investment of the project has long since come and gone. It is now up to DPW, IndyGo, Mayor Hogsett’s administration, my Council colleagues and myself to facilitate the success of this project. My role moving forward is to ensure that my constituents are treated fairly, communicated with in a timely manner, and have access to all the information they need moving forward.
Red Line Phase I will be bid out in August, with shovels going in the ground before the end of 2017. Because of the Capitol Street bridge closure at Fall Creek, and in coordination with the Citizens Energy closure of 28th and Meridian, construction for the Red Line will start in the middle of the route to take advantage of the closures already in place because of those projects. Beyond those schedule considerations, the construction contractor will propose a more detailed schedule; IndyGo will coordinate with DPW to keep residents, businesses, and property owners up to date on the construction sequence.
Construction will be challenging under the best circumstances, and I continue to urge everyone to do your part to patronize these businesses during construction. I remain committed to finding the best ways forward. For this reason, I encourage us to shift the conversation away from “if” and towards “when.” Energy and time spent debating the merits of the project would be better spent convening efforts to support business owners and residents during the construction phase. While all change is emotional and can create fear, I will continue to stay focused on facts. My goal is achieving the best possible outcome for a district that voted overwhelmingly for transit.