Red Line construction could begin ‘any day now’

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – Leaders of IndyGo told a city-county council committee Wednesday that construction of the long-awaited and controversial Red Line rapid transit line is imminent as is $75 million in grant money from the federal government.

“Construction could begin any day now,” spokesman Bryan Luellen told the Municipal Corporations Committee which met in the IndyGo conference room at the transit company’s West Washington Street headquarters.

“By the end of this month,” the transit system expects to receive two long-delayed Small Starts Grants that would fund 75% of the projected Red Line construction cost, IndyGo CEO Mike Terry told the committee.

“I’ve been told, ‘Check back next week,’” Terry said of his most recent conversation today with Federal Transit Administration officials about the timetable for reception of the promised money.

Meanwhile, IndyGo began receiving revenues from an annual $54 million local transit tax approved by voters in 2016.

The Red Line, a 12-mile long route of dedicated bus lanes linking the Village of Broad Ripple with the University of Indianapolis through downtown, is termed “shovel ready,” eligible for construction only when federal funds are in hand.

Construction contracts have been approved pending the green light from IndyGo and $12 million in planning has already been spent.

Terry acknowledged that IndyGo has not yet reached an agreement with the Department of Public Works to begin construction on city streets.

The first leg of the route will be built along Shelby Street on the south side to downtown, then along Capitol Avenue and Meridian Street to 38th Street with the most controversial construction on College Avenue north to Broad Ripple to follow.

Residents and business owners along College Avenue have fought the Red Line, claiming it was ill-planned, will add dangerous congestion to the corridor and stifle commerce.

Luellen said IndyGo was committed to joint marketing campaigns and public events to support the community during the disruptive construction phase to, “drive attendance,” to the business district.

Terry told the committee the anticipated Red Line is already a catalyst for new businesses along College Avenue which he said cited the rapid transit route as a factor in launching new ventures.

“There’s gonna be some impact,” said Councilor Monroe Gray.