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‘Indy Moves’ program examines future of metro transportation

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. — City officials launched the Indy Moves program to determine the status of transportation in Marion County and plot its future.

At 400 square miles, Indianapolis has 8,175 miles of city-maintained roads that are augmented by bike lanes, sidewalks, greenways, railroad tracks and state and federal roads and interstates.

Indianapolis drivers spend an average of 18 hours a year in vehicle congestion, according to a report compiled by the city and the Metropolitan Planning Organization, which is significantly less time than motorists in other peer cities such as Nashville, Denver and Columbus.

The average commute time in Indianapolis is 45 minutes, slower than several comparable cities, and the average bus commute time is significantly longer than other metro areas.

Conversely, analysts contend that Indianapolis’ essentially wide open roads that contribute to the lack of congestion also indicate an underutilization of space and corridors that could be used to facilitate mass transit or bike lanes.

The report said 85% of local drivers travel alone compared to 65% in Minneapolis; Marion County residents spend 23% of their income on transportation, the highest total among seven measured cities.

Indianapolis receives approximately $37 million a year from gas tax revenues, which are shrinking due to increased fuel efficiency, but should spend $178 million annually on road infrastructure maintenance.

Unlike other cities, more than 50% of the workers in Marion County travel from adjacent or more distant counties but pay no local income tax to maintain Indianapolis streets.

Hamilton County residents fill 11% of the jobs in Marion County, Hendricks County residents fill 6.3% of the positions and Johnson County residents fill 5.2% of the jobs.

IndyGo’s anticipated Red Line running from north-to-south across Marion County has had little support for expansion into Hamilton County while garnering the endorsement of Greenwood Mayor Mark Myers.

Indiana bills itself as the “Crossroads of America” due to its location as a transportation hub for travel and freight transit–and Indy is right in the center.

The Indy Moves report determines that while Indianapolis International Airport is the second-largest FedEx freight facility in the world, Indianapolis does little to capture the potential revenues associated with the value of the goods shipped through Marion County that could be utilized to support local transportation costs and initiatives.

During a public information meeting Wednesday night, attendees learned that off-loading freight onto an intermodal rail system for local delivery or boosting central Indiana manufacturing utilizing raw materials would generate additional revenue as would a mix of commuter-style taxes for out-of-town residents who are employed in Marion County.

The report acknowledges that while privately-owned vehicles are currently the most preferred method of transportation, efforts to encourage carpooling, mass transit, commercial alternatives such as Blue Indy electric cars and bikesharing would reduce congestion, though planners must consider the location of residents and employment to more efficiently move travelers through the city.

Indy Moves will continue to seek public comment at IndyMoves.org while developing a list of ten-year priorities and a final action plan to be revealed next spring.