July 1, 2024

New federal funding brings $22 million to improve Blue Line route

The money will help IndyGo reconfigure roadways, add dedicated bus lanes and improve pedestrian infrastructure along the Blue Line route. - File Photo: WFYI

The money will help IndyGo reconfigure roadways, add dedicated bus lanes and improve pedestrian infrastructure along the Blue Line route.

File Photo: WFYI

New federal funding will help realize transit and infrastructure improvements on the east side of Indianapolis, where IndyGo’s Blue Line is planned.

The Rebuilding America's Infrastructure with Sustainability and Equity, or RAISE grant provides nearly $22 million for projects along East Washington Street.

The money will help IndyGo reconfigure roadways, add dedicated bus lanes and improve pedestrian infrastructure along the Blue Line route.

Bus rapid transit lines use dedicated lanes to move bus traffic more quickly. The Blue Line will be the city's third bus rapid transit line, with service from Cumberland to the airport. The expansion of three such lines was approved by Marion County voters and is supported by millions in federal grants.

The competitive RAISE program from the U.S. The Department of Transportation invests more than $1.5 billion a year in infrastructure projects across the country. The money targets local projects that align with long term infrastructure improvements in areas that have been underserved.

Congressman André Carson said the grant is part of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law.

“This law has resulted in thousands of new projects across our country, which translates to good-paying jobs and transformative projects that will directly impact Indianapolis residents,” Carson said in a statement.

The Blue Line has been under threat since its inception. In recent years state lawmakers have introduced numerous bills to stop or slow the Blue Line project.

Last session lawmakers proposed a bill that would have delayed the line and threatened federal funding. The bill failed and the Blue Line was recommended to receive roughly 140 in federal funding for construction.

It's also encountered a number of funding obstacles since it was first approved.

The original project cost ballooned during the pandemic, and the line had to be rerouted to portions of the highway on the west side. This change means the West Washington Street corridor that has also been historically dangerous for pedestrians will not receive infrastructure changes that would have been part of the original Blue Line route.

The new RAISE grant funds will also be used for safety improvements. The east side stretch of Washington Street has been historically dangerous for drivers and pedestrians.

"For the last several years, the historic east area has been plagued by a high number of serious and deadly crashes," said newly elected IndyGo President and CEO Jennifer Pyrz. "This investment in safety upgrades and street modernization, on a section of roadway that has been identified by the IMPO as part of Indianapolis’ High Injury Network, will also improve transit efficiency for a foundational community within our city."

The Red Line, connecting the city’s north and south sides, opened in Sept. 2019. The Purple Line is currently under construction along 38th Street, on Indianapolis’s east side.

 

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