Red Line critics write Mayor Hogsett for help

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. -- Citing what they view as the negative permanent alteration to College Avenue and saddling the city with a transportation solution that may be antiquated in a few years, a coalition of north side business owners have written Mayor Joe Hogsett a letter asking his help in mitigating the impacts of the proposed Red Line mass transit line south of Broad Ripple.

“We… oppose the dedicated lanes on this largely residential street,” reads the letter from the College Corridor Business Organization. “Re-design of the College portion is possible.”

IndyGo announced earlier this week that passage of the federal budget with President Trump’s signature assured the transit agency of $50 million, two-thirds of the appropriation it sought to build the Red Line from Broad Ripple to downtown to the University of Indianapolis, plus other bus route improvements.

“I’m not for the Red Line,” said Dollie Settle of the historic Red Key Tavern who was one of nearly 40 business owners to endorse the letter to Hogsett. “It will kill us. It will kill these businesses.”

Settle said the Red Key is dependent on curbside parking for customers that will likely be eliminated once a Red Line station and dedicated bus lanes are constructed at the intersection of 52nd Street and North College Avenue.

“There’s no place to park now. Blue Indy killed us,” said Settle, pointing to five spaces along 52nd Street dedicated to the parking of electric rideshare vehicles. “I’m hoping Mayor Hogsett would talk to us and let him understand that it’s not a good idea. I know it’s going to happen, but we need help with parking.”

Two blocks north of the Red Key, Dan Jarman of Fat Dans’ Deli said he fears his noontime trade will die if diners can’t find a place to park to grab lunch or pick up their take-out food.

“We’re going to lose parking spots for people coming in, maybe grab a cheeseburger and a beer and watch a ballgame,” said Jarman. “People won’t have time to come down or do they want to fight through that to come here? I think it’s going to really negatively impact our businesses on this corridor.”

The letter to Hogsett cites fears that College Avenue is not wide enough according to federal rules for a rapid transit line, that some owners will lose property through Eminent Domain proceedings to accommodate IndyGo’s plans, that parking and loading zones will be restricted or eliminated, that diverted College Avenue traffic will spill over to adjacent neighborhoods and that motorists will not be able to safely maneuver around emergency vehicles, delivery trucks or trash collectors in the reduced lanes.

“Five of our member business owners request a meeting with you soon to appeal to IndyGo to revise the design and remove the permanent lanes on College Avenue,” reads the letter in bold print.

The mayor has vowed to carry out the will of the voters who approved an income tax referendum last November to provide IndyGo $54 million a year for enhanced transit service.

Jarman says he watches empty IndyGo buses pass his deli every day.

“If we don’t have it now, what’s going to make it happen later?” he asked, despite IndyGo’s projection of one percent additional ridership for each one percent improvement in service. “Just because you make a nicer fancier bus doesn’t mean you’re going to get more people riding on it.”

IndyGo CEO Mike Terry told FOX59 now that his agency is assured of federal and local income tax funding, it will move forward in soliciting bids for construction and drawing up Red Line plans with groundbreaking expected in less than a year.