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INDIANAPOLIS — Whether it’s shopping, eating or just driving through, there are many reasons to be on Broad Ripple Avenue.

However, if you stay long enough, even the sidewalks show room to improve.

“They’re pretty narrow. People can be cramped up,” said Jair Mejia, who was walking in the area. “Five people right here, and they’re mostly near the street, and that’s really dangerous.”

“If you go into Broad Ripple right now, everything just looks a little tired,” said Jordan Dillon, executive director of the Broad Ripple Village Association.

While Broad Ripple prides itself on being unique, Dillon said there’s an overdue need to breathe new life into the space.

“We appreciate the funky. We appreciate, kind of the dirty, kind of the eccentric parts of our village, but we want to liven it up a little bit,” she said.

Monday morning, leaders broke ground into $6.7 million worth of improvements, starting along Broad Ripple Avenue, focusing on infrastructure. Over the next year, crews will install more lighting, wider sidewalks, sewer/storm water capacity adjustments and RiverWalk development.

Crews started relocating utilities Monday, which is expected to take about four months. Construction will start after, lasting into spring of 2023. During construction, Broad Ripple Avenue, from College to Winthrop, will completely shut down to drivers.

Dillon said the temporary shut down may cause some difficulties for businesses.

“Restaurants, our bars, our entertainment venues, are just feeling like they’re getting back in the swing of things,” she said, “and I know it’s going to be even more challenging for them to settle in on this next year of construction.”

During Monday’s groundbreaking, leaders called on the community to still support Broad Ripple establishments as businesses are open, despite streets shutting down.

“Even though it’s going to be a little more of a headache to get down there, even though you’re going to have to hassle a little bit more with parking, find a way to get down here!” Dillon said.

Meanwhile, Dillon said the Broad Ripple Village Association is working closely with key players in the project to make sure businesses and communities are accommodated and represented throughout the process.

“We’re doing our best to interject ourselves and advocate for our businesses whenever they have any issues,” said Dillon.

Construction on the bridge over the canal, north of the intersection of College and Broad Ripple Avenue, is also set to start around April 4. Officials expect work to last until late summer or early this fall.

Click here for more on both projects and closures/detours.