Public hearing unveils likely North Split review plan

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More than 50 years ago, when the North Split was constructed, it bisected the Old Near Northside, leaving the historic Indianapolis neighborhood literally in the shadow of the noisy interstate.

Under the proposal North Split Rebuild, that shadow remains, but a little bit smaller, and hopefully a little bit quieter.

The proposed $240 million North Split Rebuild is the subject of a virtual public hearing today and an in-person traditional public hearing Aug. 3 held by the Indiana Department of Transportation (INDOT).

“We have to maintain our infrastructure and that’s what this whole project is about, to improve congestion, to replace and beef up some already crumbling infrastructure in the North Split and also safety,” said INDOT Spokeswoman Mallory Duncan.

Pending federal approval, construction could begin before the end of this year and be completed in 2022.

Along the I-65/I-70 interchange, 32 bridges need to be repaired or replaced. The westbound I-70 exit ramp to Pennsylvania Street will be eliminated, access to Michigan Street, Ohio Street and Fletcher Avenue will be terminated and the so-called “weave” which has traffic merging in sometimes dangerous configurations will be reduced.

Each day, 214,000 vehicles travel the interchange, which has an accident rate twice that of any other urban interstate in the state of Indiana.

“We hope congestion is way down,” said Duncan. “You won’t see a pile up of cars. It’ll be a lot safer as you go to exit to get to your workplace or got to get to your child’s school on and off the interstate.”

For the past two years the Rethink 65/70 Coalition has negotiated with INDOT to reduce the interchange’s footprint while respecting the environmental integrity of the neighborhood.

“We wanted no above ground walls, we wanted no expansion because the original plan was to add lanes and big tall walls and we wanted reconnecting the neighborhoods and economic development opportunities,” said neighbor Marjorie Kienle. “We’ve come together. There are no thru lanes. They really worked to keep the walls down, replacing with more trees. They’ve worked very closely with our technical team trying to make it more conducive to neighborhood living.”

City officials expect surface street traffic may increase during the construction.

“We’re looking forward to seeing the final design,” said Dan Parker, Director of Public Works. “We’re also looking forward to seeing the construction actually get started. We have a lot of bridges in this project that so many people use every single day to get to downtown Indianapolis that we need this project to happen because these bridges are getting to a state of disrepair that need to be replaced and need to be replaced quickly.”

“Construction needs to get started, the project is long overdue and it takes into consideration many of the issues that the neighborhood has raised,” said Mayor Joe Hogsett.

For more information on INDOT’s North Split Rebuild plans and how to attend the virtual public hearing, click here.

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