Monument Circle is the heart of Indianapolis—and has been since the town of Indianapolis was platted in 1821. Unfortunately, the Circle is subject to the same wear and tear as any street.
In the 1970s, its surface—both the street and the adjacent sidewalks—were replaced by red bricks. As a nod to the Circle’s historic status, bricks are terrific. But those bricks must continually be replaced, which is a constant challenge for the city. More recently, it has become evident that the very foundation of the Circle below those bricks needs to be replaced. What’s more—the conventional wisdom for more than a decade has been that we could do more to make the Circle more attractive, more pedestrian-friendly and more conducive to public gatherings.
In 2014, the Ballard administration plotted a complete rebuild of the streets and sidewalks of Monument Circle and its four main spokes on Meridian and Market streets. The cost—$54 million—was prohibitive.
The city has since embarked on similar projects along East and West Market Streets, which officials hope can serve as a kind of proof of concept for a Monument Circle redo. The Hogsett administration has dusted off the Ballard plan and is strategizing how to turn it into reality. It very likely will require a mix of city, state and federal funds, plus perhaps some philanthropic assistance, to the tune of $60 million.
A circle seems like a simple shape, but this is a very complex puzzle for city officials. For this week’s edition of the IBJ Podcast, Dan Parker, director of the Indianapolis Department of Public Works, talks with host Mason King about the direction the city is taking and what roadblocks could be in the way.
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