November 3, 2022

Blue Line route change seen as huge loss for westside neighborhoods

Road reconstruction that came with the Red Line.

Road reconstruction that came with the Red Line.

IndyGo’s third, planned Bus Rapid Transit line, the Blue Line, will look different than originally proposed.  An approved change in the route now excludes westside neighborhoods from promised infrastructure improvements.

Indianapolis City-County Councilor Jared Evans said the project now leaves his constituents with no plans to replace the lost investment along West Washington Street.  He said it is a huge loss.

"That was a reconstructed road, that was sidewalk connectivity, that was multi-use path, that was a stormwater drainage system with curbs," Evans said. 

Plans for the Blue Line, including service to the Indianapolis International Airport, have been in the works for years. Bus rapid transit lines can improve traffic flow while reconstructing thoroughfares to promote development.

This summer IndyGo announced that the project cost had ballooned to $520 million, $300 million more than originally proposed. Inflation and other economic changes have impacted the plan.

IndyGo Board of Directors voted recently to accept the new route excluding the phase that would have included West Washington Street.  Instead the route will use Interstate 70 from Holt Road to the airport.

Evans said infrastructure improvement projects have been put off because they were expected as part of the Blue Line construction.

"Nothing of what the Blue Line would have provided, but we did delay repaving it because we’ve been expecting this investment for years.

He says the project has been delayed, while costs have risen, because of continued pushback at the Statehouse. Indiana state lawmakers have tried to derail Blue Line plans through a number of tactics over the last two legislative sessions.

Indy Gateway Executive Director Lisa Bentley said the infrastructure loss is also a loss of possible transit oriented development. 

"Economic development and transit go hand and hand," Bentley said. 

In a written statement IndyGo said it continues to analyze options and work with stakeholders for a complete a transit project along Washington Street. 

Other phases of the project that runs along Washington Street downtown and to the east side are still planned.

Contact WFYI city government and policy reporter Jill Sheridan at jsheridan@wfyi.org. Follow on Twitter: @JillASheridan.

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