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Home / Local News / Indy Chamber Foundation receives Lilly Endowment grant to study reconstruction options for downtown 65/70 interstate loop

Indy Chamber Foundation receives Lilly Endowment grant to study reconstruction options for downtown 65/70 interstate loop

(INDIANAPOLIS – February 13) Lilly Endowment has made a $475,000 grant to the Indy Chamber Foundation to conduct a threshold study exploring design alternatives for the downtown ‘Inner Loop’ of I-65/70, as major sections of the city’s interstate system are poised to require reconstruction. The study and long-term community vision for the future of the Inner Loop will inform implementation efforts in the year 2030 and beyond.  

The Chamber Foundation will partner with the Rethink 65/70 Coalition, community leaders and city and state officials to envision the long-term possibilities for all legs of the Inner Loop – excluding the North Split, where reconstruction has already commenced. The study will evaluate best-fit design options for the downtown interstate system, including comparing a recessed-highway approach to a reconstruction of the current elevated interstate design.

“Community leaders are imagining a different future for the way we will live, move, and do business in downtown Indianapolis over the next 50 years, setting the foundation for an interstate system that enhances mobility in the urban core and across the region. We’re prioritizing larger, longer-term potential for neighborhood redevelopment – consistent with the emphasis on connectivity and quality of life in our ‘Accelerate Indy’ economic development strategy,” said Indy Chamber President & CEO Michael Huber.  

“As the Inner Loop ages towards major reconstruction over the next decade, it’s imperative that we gather the facts and engage our community to build consensus towards the best possible solution – the generous support of the Endowment will help secure a comprehensive study of our options,” Huber added.

This new analysis will also provide specific metrics on project cost, traffic flow and safety, environmental justice, and air quality impacts of alternative concepts for the remainder of the Inner Loop, including impacts on neighborhoods, businesses, and downtown connectivity and mobility.

An Advisory Council organized by the Chamber Foundation and the Rethink Coalition will guide the project, adding local expertise and community perspectives. The group includes representatives of business and civic groups, key neighborhood associations from areas around downtown interstate corridors, the public sector (including the City of Indianapolis, Office of the Governor and INDOT), major downtown employers and anchor institutions.  [A roster of advisory committee members follows the text of this release.]

“We need expert planning informed by community engagement and diverse input,” noted Mark Fisher, Chief Policy Officer for the Chamber.  “We envision a true public- private collaboration aimed at reaching a plan that’s practical, has positive cost-benefit potential and supports our higher aspirations for the future of our city.”

“The Rethink Coalition, and the neighborhoods and businesses it represents, is profoundly grateful to Lilly Endowment for funding this study,” commented Paul Knapp, CEO of Young & Laramore and a leader of the Coalition.  “The study and community engagement process may set the course for a new level of urban vitality for the next 50 years. We are also grateful for this partnership with the Chamber and its expertise in forging successful outcomes working with the state, city, businesses, and the general public. The enormous potential benefits ahead of us require just this type of combined focus and effort.”

Multiple design alternatives for the interstate will be evaluated by the study with the goal of reducing the downtown land use impact, catalyzing economic development, enhancing local and regional mobility, and supporting reconnection and redevelopment in historic urban neighborhoods.

The Chamber Foundation expects to execute an agreement with Arup Advisory Inc., a global design and engineering firm that will lead the study, in the next several weeks. Then, Rethink Coalition and the Indy Chamber will convene the project’s advisory committee. Much of the technical analysis and ‘community visioning’ process is expected to be completed during 2020.

This effort follows a 2018 collaboration among the Indy Chamber, Rethink Coalition, local officials and the  Indiana Department of Transportation (INDOT) to enhance designs for the North Split to limit neighborhood disruption and preserve more land for recreation and redevelopment. 

About the Indy Chamber

The Indy Chamber serves as a voice of progress and improvement in the region, uniting business and community to maintain a strong economy and quality of life. With membership of nearly 2,000 businesses in the Indianapolis region, the Indy Chamber is leading the effort to strengthen the business climate, improve the state of education, revitalize neighborhoods and enhance the region’s workforce. For more information, visit IndyChamber.com.

About Rethink 65/70 Coalition

The Rethink Coalition is a non-partisan group of residents, neighborhoods, businesses, civic organizations, professional organizations, civic leaders, cultural destinations, urban planners, transportation planners, architects and landscape architects who are devoted to turning a necessary massive reconstruction project into an engine for better connectivity, a more livable and just urban center, and inclusive economic development for Central Indiana for the next 50 years. For more info, please visit rethink65-70.org.

About Brian Scott

I play on the radio from 7 am -1 pm weekdays on 98.9 FM WYRZ and WYRZ.org. Follow me on twitter @WYRZBrianScott or e-mail me at brian@wyrz.org.

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