Plan to Spend Time in New PlanIndy Site

Today, the Indianapolis Department of Metropolitan Development (DMD) unveiled an improved PlanIndy website, which showcases an accessible and easy-to-view categorization of city planning efforts.

The site organizes into four categories upon entering, with the viewer able to choose between accessing transportation plans, land-use maps , special districts maps, and custom selection of data layers. Here are some key takeaways from initial adventures into the transportation layers of the site.

Layer Selection is Cool

The Transportation layer on PlanIndy.

The key selection automatically has all layers selected upon entering, but the real fun here is playing with the various layers . In the transportation plan maps, viewing plans for greenway and bike infrastructure is provided by checking the proposed bikeway and greenway layers, which provides an image like the one above. Speaking of which, there is a lot to unpack here.

Proposed Trails Are Also Cool

I’ve talked recently on Twitter about the recent allocation of state funds for expansion of the B&O Trail from Speedway to Haughville funded by Governor Holcomb’s NextLevels program, which would extend the trail southeast toward downtown to Michigan St. My speculation was that, with further expansion along the abandoned B&O ROW, the Westside would potentially have its own version of Monon, connecting cultural facilities in White River State Park like the Indianapolis Zoo with Stringtown, Haughville, and Speedway. Add in the future redevelopment of the GM Stamping Grounds by Ambrose and you have a real need for urban greenway. Thankfully, it seems the city is on top of this need, as the former ROW is highlighted as a proposed greenway under the transportation plan.

The B&O ROW through Haughville and Stringtown can provide a greenway connector linking Westside residents with downtown amenities and cultural institutions such as the Zoo and White River State Park.

Where the Cultural Trail Goes Next

Furthermore, in the transportation map layers of proposed greenway and bikeways, we see the possible future of Cultural Trail add-ons and complementary trails. We already know that the 16th St/Methodist corridor will be receiving a northward expansion of the trail on Senate from the Cultural Trail to 16th in a partnership of the Near North Development Corporation and IU Methodist, but where the Cultural Trail expands next has been the question on everyone’s minds since the radical success of the project.

Now, with the PlanIndy site, we can start to detect some rumblings of where add-ons to the CT may go next. Interestingly enough, there are several spurs which have been speculated on for years but may, hopefully, finally get some traction under the current administration. In the map above, we can see spokes emanating from the Cultural Trail (in solid green) to all directions as dotted-blue lines representing proposed bikeways and dotted-green lines representing greenways.

To the southwest along Kentucky and West we see a series of proposed greenways and bikeways which would be incredibly affected by the possible acquisition of the Valspar property by the Indy Eleven for a new stadium, and, of course, affected by the looming Waterside redevelopment at the GM Stamping Plant.

To the south along Madison is the proposed South Greenway which would connect the CityWay development to Greenwood through the Old Southside and Garfield Park, creating a major connection for thousands of Southside residents. Also of note is the south spur on East St. headed directly into the heart of Bates-Hendricks. Recently, the City-County Council District 16 candidate Laura Giffel has discussed multi-modal improvements being made to East which would help foster and restore the business node in that neighborhood.

To the east, we see a series of spokes restitching the Morris/Prospect street grid as it weaves between Bates-Hendricks and Fountain Square under I-65. More interestingly, we see a slew of connecting fragments on the east side of the CBD through the Market East/Cole Noble neighborhoods including a proposed bike lane on East from New York to Virginia linking with the CT, and a bike lane proposal for East Market St. toward Bill Oesterle’s redevelopment of the Angie’s List campus. The segment along East is really interesting, as I’ve personally written about the potential on East for multi-modal lanes. Given Market East’s insatiable desire for eating up surface lots (construction of The Grid, yet another infill project, started earlier this year), connecting the district with outlaying neighborhoods is wholly important for creating and maintain urban continuity especially in the light of the scooter era. Altogether, these segments seem to be in line with the Indianapolis Regional Center Multimodal System Plan completed in 2009 by SKA.

I am really bullish on this area of town, and with the eventual construction of the Blue Line along the Washington St. corridor in conjunction with the Ford Plant redevelopment, I think the southern Holy Cross district has a very bright future. Seeing a Cultural Trail expansion through the area is possible, but acquiring ROW on Market is tough when there’s already not much of it between the jail complex, and taking the CT down Washington would interfere with Blue Line plans, most likely.

To the north, an obvious candidate for CT expansion is the Indiana Avenue district from 10th to 16Tech. Not only does the ROW probably exist, but the connection of downtown, IU Health, the IUPUI campus, and the state’s future largest tech incubator seems too good an opportunity to pass up. Interestingly enough, the transportation layer does not include the future IU Methodist Connector Trail along Senate, but it does include the under construction Illinois two-way cycle track, which, when complete, will connect Fall Creek Place with Downtown alongside the BRT corridors of Meridian and Capitol.

While Pennsylvania St. has a proposed bikeway, we see again that the Old Northside continues to be entirely unserved by bike infrastructure. To me, this is straight-up mind boggling. For one, the area maintains a rapid redevelopment pace and boasts some of the highest property values in the city. Atop of that, the 16th St corridor has been termed a “Village Mixed Use” by the Near North Corridor Future Development Plan. There’s a golden opportunity to connect the Monon with spurs into and out of the Old Northside and the adjacency of Mass Ave to the south creates a real no-brainer for bicycle connectivity. Many of the area’s arterials possess 4 or more lanes (ahem, Delaware), why not one for a multi-modal spur?

It is possible we don’t see a true “expansion” of the Cultural Trail per se due to the increased funding it would take to operate, but we could definitely see the CT grow into a hub and spoke system where a series of spurs connects individual nodes to the system. I consider the South Greenway and the Indiana Avenue greenways likely to be some of those spokes, sooner rather than later. Add in the Senate Avenue connector and downtown bicycle infrastructure will be substantially larger in future years.

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