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Indy Public Works discusses two-way traffic coming to New York, Michigan streets



Indianapolis, Indiana – The Near Eastside community’s neighbors offered the Indianapolis Department of Public Works conflicting opinions on the move on Tuesday night, although the project to convert New York and Michigan streets to two-way traffic is scheduled to begin in the spring.

Neighbors were informed by Public Works traffic experts that reverting New York and Michigan streets to two-way traffic will assist in lower speeds and boost safety since it will prevent automobiles from passing one another in an attempt to accelerate.

Many in attendance were pleased with the project and the goals. Jakob Morales, a community member in the Little Flower Neighborhood who bikes to work daily, said, “I love the project. It accommodates cyclists and is accessible to pedestrians as well. It overall will just transform the street.”

Some people asked the engineers and designers who were responding to queries whether it was the intention to impede traffic in the mostly residential regions of Michigan and New York streets.

The Indianapolis Department of Public Works’ senior project manager for roadway design, Jordan Williams, first discussed the idea in October and provided data illustrating how it could increase safety.

“Speed kills,” Williams said. “If you see the survivability of a human being hit by a car doing 20 versus 25 versus 30 (mph), it is unquestionable that speed is not what we want here.”

Despite some audience members’ opposition to the idea, many applauded Williams’ reaction.

Rebecca Frechette lives in the Bosart Brown Neighborhood on New York Street along the conversion site. She says she’s against the project and cites safety concerns about turning across two lanes of traffic going in either direction. “My neighbors at the end of New York Street are not happy with this. We don’t want the changes. We like the way it is one-way at that point.”

The project is the result of fifteen years of agitation by local groups that wanted travel times to be subordinated to the safety of the local population.

John Franklin, executive director of the Near East Area Renewal, said he has been working to bring the project to life for 10 years. He’s excited to see it get started. “We’re trying to reclaim our neighborhoods. These streets were turned one way before Interstate 70 was put in. The traffic volumes no longer justify them as through-streets.”

Protected bike lanes and enhanced pedestrian infrastructure, such as bumped-out crosswalks and better sidewalks, are also included in the $16 million project. While some of the early stages have cones and signs in place, the rest of the work will be completed in the spring.

According to Jacob Barnes, the mayor’s Near Eastside neighborhood champion, the conversion project will result in more state money for the two roads. He clarified to the assembly how the calculation counts the distance from a single lane on one-way streets. He said that by converting the streets to two-way traffic, each side would be given equal weight and the funding received by the two sections of road would be nearly doubled.