Michigan Street to go both ways through IUPUI campus

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Work soon will begin downtown to convert Michigan Street from one-way to two-way traffic through the IUPUI campus.

The project, which also will add bike paths, new sidewalks, a bus lane and new crosswalk signals, focuses on the stretch of Michigan between West Street and White River Parkway. Michigan is currently one-way westbound in this area.

A similar project already has been completed on New York Street, which parallels Michigan Street to the south. New York previously carried one-way eastbound traffic through IUPUI. That project was finished in December.

In 2014, city officials approved spending $10 million in tax increment financing to improve both New York and Michigan streets around IUPUI. The Michigan Street project is consuming most of that amount, with an estimated project cost of $7 million.

In the parlance of transportation planners, the projects are designed to calm traffic—to slow down drivers and make the area friendlier to pedestrians and cyclists.

“Making those roads two-way is going to calm traffic a little bit,” said Betsy Whitmore, spokeswoman for the Indianapolis Department of Public Works.

Drivers tend to go faster on one-way streets, Whitmore said, because everyone is traveling in the same direction.

The street conversions are also good news for IndyGo, said the bus system’s public affairs director, Bryan Luellen.

“Transit does better when there are two-way streets,” Luellen said.

On two-way streets, a single road can serve riders traveling both directions of a given bus line. But one-way streets force buses and passengers to use different streets. 

Currently, Luellen said, IndyGo’s Route 3 uses both New York and Michigan streets. Once the Michigan Street project is completed, buses on that line will move off New York Street and use Michigan Street for both directions of travel.

More project details:

— Michigan Street will be widened between Porto Alegre Street and Indiana Avenue.

— A two-way, mostly off-street bike lane will be added on the south side of Michigan between Porto Alegre and Blackford streets.

— Workers will repair existing sidewalks and add new sidewalks.

— An eastbound bus lane will be added between West Street and Indiana Avenue.

— A new traffic signal will be installed at the intersection of West and Vermont streets

— Crosswalk beacons will be installed at three places on Michigan Street: at Clinical Drive, at the IUPUI Engineering and Technology Building and at California Street. Crosswalk beacons stop traffic at the touch of a button, allowing pedestrians to cross the street safely.

The city will host a pre-bid conference on the Michigan Street project Aug. 1. Bids are due Aug. 18. Construction is expected to start in September, with a completion date of November 2017.

The design consultant on the project is Indianapolis-based Beam, Longest and Neff.

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