Local mayors tout plan for Red Line transit route

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The mayors of Indianapolis, Carmel, Westfield and Greenwood on Tuesday announced a potential plan and a timetable for The Red Line, a proposed rapid-transit all-electric bus route that would stretch 28 miles from Hamilton County to Johnson County.

Planners hope to use a $2 million federal grant from the Department of Transportation, plus $1 million in contributions from the four communities, to pay for environmental and design work on the route. The work will begin in early 2015, pending approval of the local funding.

Indianapolis is expected to chip in $687,636, Carmel $196,592, Westfield $146,206, and Greenwood $64,366. The federal grant hinges on the local funding getting approval.

Once environmental and design work is completed, the communities will apply for federal funding to help pay for actual construction, with hopes of starting the work in 2016. Federal funding won't pay for the entire project, and local funding will require approval through local referendums to raise property taxes.

The construction process is expected to take two to three years.

“This federal grant is an enormous win for central Indiana,” Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard said in a prepared statement.  “After decades of study and debate, we can now get to work on a regional rapid transit system that will better connect people to where they work, live, learn and play.”

The Red Line is what is could be the first of several mass-transit routes running through the area as part of a $1.3 billion transit plan unveiled last July.

Capital costs for The Red Line alone were estimated at $114 million to $128 million, according to a report released last year by Indy Connect.

A preferred route issued Tuesday for The Red Line would see it start in Carmel, following City Center Drive and Pennsylvania Street into Marion County, where it  would shift to College Avenue, running through Broad Ripple and past the Indiana State Fairgrounds.

“From 38th Street, the line will use either Meridian Street or a combination of Capitol Avenue and Illinois Street to downtown Indianapolis,” planners said. “The route will exit downtown along Virginia Avenue through Fountain Square, pick up Shelby Street past the UIndy campus, and then take Madison Avenue through Southern Marion County, to the Greenwood Park Mall and beyond.”

The route also could be extended north into Westfield’s Grand Park.   

The route would utilize existing traffic lanes as well as dedicated lanes built in high-traffic areas. The line would feature an estimated 40 stations.

Electric buses would run every 10 minutes during peak times and 15 minutes during off-peak times on weekdays and every 20 minutes to 30 minutes on weekends.

A presentation on The Red Line is available here.

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