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Indianapolis Inner Loop Visionary Study

The downtown Indianapolis interstate system, known as the ‘Inner Loop,’ is nearing the end of its functional life 45 years after completion. The Indy Chamber and Rethink Coalition, Inc. engaged engineering firm Arup, Inc. to compare a rebuild “as is” option (maintaining today’s elevated interstates) with a recessed alternative to reduce the physical footprint, reconnect downtown neighborhoods, and create development opportunities. While the timeline for these plans may be measured in years, decades even, the time to start the discussion is now.

Recessed Option:

The recessed option would remove elevated sections of interstate and rebuild them below grade, allowing city streets to extend over the interstates and restore connectivity between downtown and surrounding neighborhoods. This option could reclaim 45 acres of land around and under the current interstate right-of-way and create up to 23 acres of new land by “capping” over the recessed system – creating the potential for new development, parks, or other uses.

The recessed concept generates added value through connectivity, multi-modal transit capacity, enhanced safety for downtown motorists and pedestrians, new equitable development opportunities, and reduced noise and air pollution. This return on investment includes nearly $100 million in market value for recaptured land with the potential to generate up to $2.5 billion in new real estate investment and create 24,000 new jobs.

 

Recessed Option:

The recessed option would remove elevated sections of interstate and rebuild them below grade, allowing city streets to extend over the interstates and restore connectivity between downtown and surrounding neighborhoods. This option could reclaim 45 acres of land around and under the current interstate right-of-way and create up to 23 acres of new land by “capping” over the recessed system – creating the potential for new development, parks, or other uses.

The recessed concept generates added value through connectivity, multi-modal transit capacity, enhanced safety for downtown motorists and pedestrians, new equitable development opportunities, and reduced noise and air pollution. This return on investment includes nearly $100 million in market value for recaptured land with the potential to generate up to $2.5 billion in new real estate investment and create 24,000 new jobs.

Rebuild 'As Is':

The Rebuild As-Is option would replicate the existing, elevated Inner Loop with updated design and safety standards. This option would maintain through traffic capacity, collector-distributor roads, entry/exit ramps between interchanges, and the footprint of the Inner Loop.

 

Rebuild 'As Is':

The Rebuild As-Is option would replicate the existing, elevated Inner Loop with updated design and safety standards. This option would maintain through traffic capacity, collector-distributor roads, entry/exit ramps between interchanges, and the footprint of the Inner Loop.

Key Findings: Rebuilding Indy’s Inner Loop

  • The I-65 and I-70 ‘Inner Loop’ through Indianapolis is nearing the end of its functional life; the last section of these 31 miles of the interstate was completed 45 years ago, and reconstruction is needed for safety and traffic management.
  • The Inner Loop connected downtown for commuters and visitors – but the elevated system also disconnected neighborhoods, displaced thousands of residents, and limited the growth of the city as people and employers increasingly seek out vibrant urban centers.
  • The Indy Chamber and Rethink Coalition engaged Arup Inc., a globally-respected transportation planning and engineering firm, to explore options that meet the basics of safety and traffic, maintain regional mobility but also drive connectivity, neighborhood vitality, and equitable economic growth.
  • Arup compared current plans to rebuild today’s elevated interstates with a recessed alternative to reduce their physical footprint, reconnect downtown neighborhoods and create new development opportunities – the Inner Loop Visionary Study.
  • The recessed option removes elevated sections of interstate between interchanges and rebuilds them below grade, reducing the physical footprint of the interstates (cutting the corridor width nearly in half with the same number of travel lanes).
  • City streets can be routed over these recessed sections, maintaining interstate traffic flow while reconnecting downtown neighborhoods with a more convenient crosstown traffic grid; ‘new’ land can also be created by building over the recessed highways (“capping”).
  • The Arup analysis estimates nearly 75 acres of newly-available land along and over the recessed system for new development, parks, or other uses (the 45 acres of land reclaimed from right-of-ways brings $100 million in market value).
  • The recessed alternative also consolidates interstate on-and-off ramps to enhance safety and ease of navigation, replacing high-speed collector and distributor roads with multi-modal boulevards. These boulevards are safer for vehicles and pedestrians, can include more walkable and cycling-friendly features, and offer greater appeal for adjacent development.
  • Rebuilding the elevated Inner Loop “as is” will cost taxpayers an estimated $2.3 billion while generating no new benefit or economic value.
  • In contrast, the recessed option costs more to build (by $540 million, for a total $2.8 billion) but creates new economic development and neighborhood redevelopment opportunities, jobs, and tax revenues: In addition to the $100 million in immediate land value for the recaptured land, Arup estimates additional potential to generate up to $2.5 billion in new real estate investment and create 24,000 new jobs.
  • By reclaiming land for the property tax rolls, the recessed alternative can generate up to $66 million in new revenues annually (in addition to income and state sales taxes), it creates revenue capture mechanisms (like tax increment financing) that can offset the up-front cost difference for taxpayers.
  • The economic, livability and environmental advantages of the recessed option add up to a compelling vision for a more connected, competitive, and inclusive city, putting Indianapolis in the vanguard among major cities exploring urban interstate reconstruction.

Recessed Option Cost

Reconstructing all three legs of the Inner Loop using the Recessed option will cost approximately $2.8 billion in today’s dollars.

Included:

  • Recessed Inner Loop.
  • Multi-modal boulevards.
  • Strategic capping and stitching.
  • Enhanced regional and local connectivity.
  • Complete neighborhoods.
  • Equitable and inclusive development opportunities.
  • Reduced traffic impacts.
  • Reduced traffic noise and air pollution.
  • Expanded greenspace.
  • Transit integration.
  • Greenways/urban trails.
 

Recessed Option Cost

Reconstructing all three legs of the Inner Loop using the Recessed option will cost approximately $2.8 billion in today’s dollars.

Included:

  • Recessed Inner Loop.
  • Multi-modal boulevards.
  • Strategic capping and stitching.
  • Enhanced regional and local connectivity.
  • Complete neighborhoods.
  • Equitable and inclusive development opportunities.
  • Reduced traffic impacts.
  • Reduced traffic noise and air pollution.
  • Expanded greenspace.
  • Transit integration.
  • Greenways/urban trails.

Cost to Rebuild 'As Is'

Reconstructing all three legs of the Inner Loop using the Rebuild As-Is option will cost approximately $2.3 billion in today’s dollars.

Included:

  • Adequate levels of service for interstate traffic.
  • Some safety improvements for motorists.
  • Maintained levels of adverse environmental impact.
  • Maintained levels of limited local connectivity.

Not included:

  • Equitable and inclusive development.
  • Enhanced regional and local connectivity.
  • Multimodal boulevards and transit integration.
  • Cap-parks and Greenways/urban trails.
  • Complete neighborhoods.
 

Cost to Rebuild 'As Is'

Reconstructing all three legs of the Inner Loop using the Rebuild As-Is option will cost approximately $2.3 billion in today’s dollars.

Included:

  • Adequate levels of service for interstate traffic.
  • Some safety improvements for motorists.
  • Maintained levels of adverse environmental impact.
  • Maintained levels of limited local connectivity.

Not included:

  • Equitable and inclusive development.
  • Enhanced regional and local connectivity.
  • Multimodal boulevards and transit integration.
  • Cap-parks and Greenways/urban trails.
  • Complete neighborhoods.
 

Stay Informed:

The Indy Chamber and Rethink Coalition, Inc. are spearheading a series of briefings on its findings, and plans for public meetings and input sessions as in the works. To join the conversation, please email Taylor Hughes at thughes@indychamber.com.

Review the complete report.