IndyGo kicks off work on two-year, $188M Purple Line project

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The 15.2-mile Purple Line from downtown to Lawrence, which will include a stop at the Indiana State Fairgrounds, is expected be operational in 2024. (Rendering courtesy of IndyGo)

IndyGo on Friday broke ground on the Purple Line, a two-year, $188 million bus rapid transit project set to stretch 15.2 miles from downtown Indianapolis to the city of Lawrence.

“The start of Purple Line construction symbolizes the beginning of new opportunity and growth for an entire community,” said IndyGo President and CEO Inez Evans in a news release. “We know this project will bring unprecedented renewal and phenomenal transformation as residents take advantage of the opportunity to move forward faster.”

Nearly 70% of the total is set aside for infrastructure improvements, including sidewalks and stormwater drainage. The Purple Line will use 60-foot articulated, fully-electric buses.

“The big thing about bus rapid transit, which is what our Red, Purple and Blue lines are, is that they’re much more than just transit,” IndyGo spokeswoman Carrie Black told IBJ earlier this month. “So yes, they’re moving more people faster, but they’re also significant infrastructure projects as well.”

The Purple Line will piggyback on the Red Line route between downtown and the stop at 38th Street and College Avenue. The newly constructed route from 38th and College to Lawrence will be broken into six segments, gradually moving east.

The line is scheduled to be finished and operational sometime in 2024.

The project is being funded with an $81 million U.S. Federal Transit Administration grant and $69.3 million in IndyGo-dedicated income tax—approved in a 2016 referendum—along with $33.9 million in other federal grants and $1.2 million from Indianapolis’ Department of Public Works.

Indianapolis-based F.A. Wilhelm Construction Co. is handling construction and communication after landing an $18.2 million contract for the work in December. Bloomington-based general contractor Crider & Crider Inc. will take care of the roads, sidewalks, drainage and other civil work as part of its $95.6 million contract.

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5 thoughts on “IndyGo kicks off work on two-year, $188M Purple Line project

    1. Eh, I think it made sense for the Red Line to go first. In terms of combination of job density + population density, the Red Line was the winner with no contest. The Purple Line working in tandem with the Red Line will improve capacity on Meridian Street and provide single-transfer access to jobs along College.

  1. It is a delicate balance to achieve the metrics that best assure federal funding. The Red Line presented the best metrics, as noted above, for employment, density, access, travel time, and cost. The Purple Line benefits from the shared segment between the downtown transit center and 38th St. A key enhancement for both would be a limited stop route connecting the north end of the Red Line to a far east stop on the Purple Line via 86th, 82nd, and Shadeland that would serve employment, shopping, medical, and other attractions.

  2. Yes, Derek C, that would be very beneficial. In similar manner, the Blue Line should connect with the Red Line somewhere west, before going all the way to the bus station.

    And I’ll always wonder why the Red Line didn’t go north on Keystone rather than College, where it wasn’t wanted + creates traffic issues. This would have linked people to Meijer’s, Target + other shopping, dr’s offices, a big library branch, lots of places for employment. Since much of downtown is a food desert, making transportation to a large grocery store readily available is sorely needed. Maybe it should make a loop + go 1 direction on College + other on Keystone?

    1. The density and walkability of Keystone is terrible, it would have been a poor performer on that alignment. The referendum results by precinct prove that the notion that the Red Line on College “wasn’t wanted” is completely unfounded. Lastly, doing a loop and forcing riders to go all the way around just to make a return trip would be a disaster. It’s bad for riders and insanely expensive from the perspective of operating costs.