The signs of construction have been prevalent around the campus of IUPUI this semester between the New York Street city project and new student housing. The New York Street conversion to a two-way street, or Phase One is nearing completion, with a scheduled wrap-up date in December of this year. However, the improvements to the campus’s main thoroughfares are not even halfway completed.
Beginning in the spring, the RebuildIndy Project, Mayor Greg Ballard’s initiative to improve downtown Indianapolis, will take on a much more ambitious enterprise, Phase Two. The group will begin its conversion of Michigan Street to a two-way as well as completely revamping its intersection with West Street in front of the Informatics and Communications Technology Complex.
This portion of the project is expected to take approximately a year and a half to complete, with an anticipated finish date in November of 2017. It will also take up the lion’s share of the costs. Phases One and Two are to be completed at a total cost of $9.6 million with the second part of the project to cost an estimated $7 million. None of these funds will come directly from IUPUI, according to Project Manager Angela Nicholson.
“Our budget of $10 million is rigid,” she said. “We will not go over that amount. It is completely publicly funded, with a portion coming from TIFF funds.”
Of some concern to students during the construction portion of Phase Two could be traffic and access to parking garages along Michigan Street, such as Gateway and Blackford. According to Mark Sawyer, one of the engineers for the project, this shouldn’t be a problem at all.
“Students will have no problems getting in,” he said. “With New York Street open, that should relieve much of the pressure and give drivers options.”
Michigan Street will not be a two-way street until the entire project is completed. But that won’t be the only major change that students will notice upon completion. Blackford Street will also become a two-way street south of Michigan Street along the east side of the Science and Life Building.
Changes will also be coming to the bike lane along Michigan Street. The current lane will no longer exist, instead it will be moved and will run approximately 8 feet away from the street next to the sidewalk and will also be raised to a higher elevation than the street, as will the pedestrian sidewalk. The bike lane will be on the north side of Michigan Street from West to Blackford. Cyclists will then have to cross Michigan at the pedestrian crossing and a two-way bike lane, still separate from the street, will continue on the south side of the street from Blackford to Porto Alegre Street, just west of the White River.
Improvements with an eye on pedestrian safety are also on the way along Michigan Street. Three High-Intensity Activated crosswalk, or HAWK, beacons will be installed to replace several of the current flashing yellow pedestrian crossings. The HAWK signals require traffic to stop when activated by a pedestrian, first with a flashing yellow light to warn traffic and then with a red light which stops vehicular traffic.
All crossings will also have a “pedestrian refuge area,” a spot on what will be a raised median that will allow pedestrians to wait for the next signal. The HAWK signals will be located at Clinical Drive across from the IU Dental School, near the North Street garage, and California Street in front of the IT building.
Two things seem to be promised to IUPUI students as a result of this project. One is the headaches that come with any large construction project. There will be noise, there will be traffic diversions and unsightly construction equipment for an extended period of time. The other, however, will be a campus thoroughfare that will be safer for students, in the long run, than what exists now. And with the landscaping that will accompany the finished product, IUPUI students in the future will be able to enjoy a more beautiful campus that may seem unrecognizable compared to the current campus.