City leaders review study on sidewalk improvements for heavily traveled road

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INDIANAPOLIS – City leaders are reviewing the possibility of installing sidewalks and crosswalks near an area where a car hit a 7-year-old boy.

The results of the walkability assessment were compiled and turned over to the Department of Public Works. Joan Cook with Health by Design said they partnered with Public Allies and AmeriCorps to conduct the assessments around the city.

One of the sites chosen several months ago was the Keenan-Stahl Boys & Girls Club off Troy Avenue. The group was planning the assessment when David Lopez, 7, was hit while trying to cross the road.

“Obviously, there (are) a lot of people traveling along Troy Avenue on foot and it lacks the infrastructure for people to safely walk along the corridor,” Cook said.

After Lopez was hit, teenagers with the club decided to organize an awareness walk at the end of May. After the walk, the teenagers, several city leaders and neighbors recorded their observations. The results were released Wednesday afternoon.

“What they found is that there was a lack of sidewalks for people to safely walk along the corridor. There was a lack of crosswalks to be able to get across the street,” Cook said.

The assessment resulted in a number of recommendations for the city of Indianapolis. Those recommendations included:

  • Install/repair sidewalks on the .67 mile stretch from Shelby Street east to Keystone along the Troy Avenue corridor
  • Repair the pedestrian crossing signal at Keystone Avenue
  • Lower the speed limit along the Troy Avenue corridor
  • Put down marked crosswalks across Troy at a minimum near Emma Donnan Middle School and near the Boys and Girls Club
  • Install a designated walking area using traffic safety delineators under the underpass of Interstate 65, especially on the north side

“These kids stepped up and they brought it to light and I think it’s great that they did,” said Frank Mascari, a city-county councilman who represents District 20.

Mascari participated in the walkability assessment. He believes the area should be addressed.

“On Troy Avenue itself (and) in between, where we’re talking (about), I think sidewalks (can be) put in ‘cause there’s space for sidewalks,” Mascari said.

Mascari regularly meets with members of the Department of Public Works. During a meeting on Friday, he said the area around Troy Avenue was one of the topics they discussed.

“They didn’t say no. I feel like that they’re having an open mind on this and they’re going to look at the study that was done and hopefully, we’ll know something in a week or two on what some of the plans are,” Mascari said.

DPW confirmed that they had not received previous calls about concerns or requests for additional services in the area. They said they have now communicated with the club. DPW will review the walkability assessment, saying it was the first official report they received regarding the “neighborhood’s infrastructure need.”

DPW doesn’t know whether a project for the area will be scheduled or when it will be scheduled. The neighborhood is now on its radar. DPW said they have $700 million worth of sidewalk projects that need to be completed in Marion County. That work doesn’t include the Troy Avenue area.

“If you think about it, we can spend $6 million on a cricket park we should be able to buy some…get some sidewalks for these kids,” Mascari said.

Marshelle Shelton-Sights is the unit director for the Keenan-Stahl Boys & Girls Club. She said she’s wanted improvements for a long time. Several years ago, one of their members was killed while trying to cross Troy Avenue to get to a bus stop.

“Our kids are so excited that so many people (have taken) interest in what they’ve discovered in our community,” Shelton-Sights said, adding that she’s encouraged by the conversations she’s had with city leaders and DPW.

“We’re being heard. Absolutely,” she said. “And, they’re listening and they’re taking part and putting it in action and that’s what’s very important.”

Mascari said he has requested the speed limit to change from 35 to 25 mph.

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