Rethink 65/70 coalition not fully satisfied with state’s latest rebuild plan

The Rethink 65/70 coalition is pleased that the Indiana Department of Transportation has dropped plans to add lanes to the north-split interchange but says the state’s new plan addresses only two of its four concerns.

Paul Knapp, a leader of the coalition and CEO of the advertising agency Young & Laramore, said in an email late this week that “the coalition really appreciates that the state has completely backed off an expanded interstate and nearly eliminated above-grade walls for its reconstruction plans.

“That is great. But the coalition’s third and fourth principles are just as important as the first two."

The goals not yet achieved are increasing connectivity between neighborhoods and businesses separated by the interstates, and increasing opportunities for economic development along the path of the interstates that benefit residents of all economic levels, not just the affluent.

Last fall, INDOT shared its preliminary plans for a complete reconstruction of the interchange, which is 50 years old and handles about 170,000 cars per day. At that time, INDOT said it planned to add lanes of traffic as the interstates approached the interchange from the east, west and south.

But late last month, after hearing community opposition and evaluating various options, INDOT said it had landed on a "preliminary preferred alternative" that won’t add through lanes. The agency evaluated five alternatives, ranging from doing nothing at all to a full reconstruction of the interchange.

Detailed maps of the preferred alternative can be found here.

INDOT says the preferred alternative will involve adding concrete barriers between certain lanes of traffic and adding some ramps. This will require the construction of retaining walls in certain areas that are between about 7 and 11 feet high, located close to the top of the existing berms.

A full reconstruction would have added three lanes of through traffic in certain spots, necessitating much higher retaining walls built at the foot of the berms—essentially bringing the highway closer to neighboring properties.

The coalition said in a statement that it continues to work with its outside consultant, Arup Advisors, to analyze the state’s new design. The group said it plans to work with state officials to improve the design “to best achieve the coalition’s other two principles.”

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