It's the most subtle of City-County Council actions, the routine filing of a routine parking ordinance. But the measure also is a distinct indicator that city officials believe a bus rapid transit system will be built in Indianapolis, drastically altering the traffic landscape on the city's busiest streets.
The proposal, introduced Nov. 30, would restrict parking on Shelby Street in parts from Prospect Street to Hanna Avenue. The parking ban would make room for the Red Line’s 13-mile, $100 million first phase, from 66th Street in Broad Ripple to the University of Indianapolis at Hanna.
The move reflects the confidence leaders have that a $75 million federal “Small Starts” grant for construction of the line will be approved this spring. The city’s public transportation agency, IndyGo, applied for the grant in September.
If everything goes as planned, construction would begin in spring 2017, and the first phase of the Red Line would open in 2018. The master plan, called Indy Connect, is for the Red Line to stretch 35 miles from Westfield to Greenwood. It would be just one of five lines crisscrossing the city. The entire $10 billion plan needs to be funded and built in stages, so the timetable is uncertain.
The parking restrictions on Shelby Street most likely would begin a few months before construction starts. City-County Council member Jeff Miller said the ordinance would allow the city to adequately prepare residents for any loss of parking spaces and to ensure the process is done legally.
The city was criticized earlier this year when prime parking spots in front of businesses and homes were commandeered for construction of electric car charging stations for the BlueIndy car share service. The restrictions are a hint of the traffic overhaul that will accompany the Red Line, including the building of bus platforms, bus-only lanes, prohibitions on turns on Meridian and College avenues and elimination of street parking.Where did this $10 billion figure arise? The figure previously thrown around was $1.2 to $1.3 billion. This reporter just throws out that gigantic figure in the most cavalier of fashions as if it's just a drop in the bucket. And then people who work for this newspaper wonder why people in this city have so much distrust and discontent towards the newspaper's content.
The dedicated bus lane required for the first leg of the bus rapid transit line will wreak havoc in areas where it operates much worse than Blue Indy has already created in some of those same areas through the displacement of on-street parking. The line will run right down College Avenue instead of the more obvious and logical choice--Keystone Avenue. Clearly it's a Palladium to the Stadium vision of a party bus of sorts for occasional bus commuters heading downtown to a Colts or a Pacers game as opposed to one that would be utilized on a daily basis by serious commuters to go to and from work. Fellow blogger Fred McCarthy has some more observations on the planned traffic obstacles seemingly designed to create gridlock for those commuting by automobile here.
UPDATE: The Star updated its online story at 9:30 p.m. tonight and changed the $10 billion figure to $1 billion. The updated story contained no mention of the presumed error in the original story.