Michigan Street Two-way Conversion and West Street Improvement Plans

With over thirty thousand students enrolled this spring, IUPUI is drowning in vehicles. The biggest issue with the traffic on campus is the amount of time it takes to get to a parking garage or leaving campus quick enough to avoid getting stuck in a traffic jam.

Not only does the traffic affect students driving to and from class it also increases safety risks for pedestrians on the crosswalks and students riding bikes on the roads.

To help improve these traffic conditions Indianapolis has announced its Michigan Street two-way conversion and West Street improvement plans. To bring awareness of this project to the students at IUPUI, the Indianapolis Department of Public Works (DPW) held a meeting on Thursday, March 10 in University Hall. Construction will begin September 2016 and end November 2017.

Map of the West Street conversion

Map of the West Street conversion

When discussing the details of these plans Warren Stokes, member of Indianapolis’s Public Information Office, answered the important question: “Will the student’s tuitions be affected in anyway?”

He said, “No.”

This project, estimated to cost seven million dollars, will be paid out by the city of Indianapolis for the safety of its students and the individuals driving to and from the IU medical facilities.

Stokes also discussed the new crosswalk signals that will be installed. He said, “The High intensity Activated crossWalk or H.A.W.K. signals are being installed to improve pedestrian safety. The students will push the walk button on the device and by doing so a signal will turn red, stopping traffic, once the pedestrian has crossed the street the signal will flash red, turn to yellow, and then shut off allowing traffic to resume. This new signal gives the students a safer passage across the street.”

Medians will also be installed to divide traffic and help reduce the number of students that cross in a non-cross section of road.

When asked whether these signals and medians will help students in crossing the roads, student Samantha Campbell responded, “I feel that students will check the cars and walk when and wherever in the road they can cross quickly. Many students don’t walk to the crosswalk areas and wait to cross they just run across the street when its fastest for them so we can get to class on time.”

Student Allissa Sheridan also responded to the question about crosswalks. She said, “I feel like at first students will not think anything about changing how they walk across the street, but now it will be more difficult for them to cross a two-way road instead of a one-way. I think having traffic coming from both directions now will make it more difficult and students will start using the crosswalk areas if they feel that is faster to stop traffic with the crosswalk rather than wait for a gap in traffic.”

When addressing the affects this project will have on students, design manager, Angela Nicholson, had only positive things to say. She said, “By allowing the drivers to leave the way they came will eliminate the confusion of navigating the one-way roads. Now instead of having four lanes one-way on Michigan and four lanes one-way on New York they will be split among the two roads to ease traffic flow.”

West Street, image provided by IUPUI

West Street, image provided by IUPUI

Nicholson continued explaining that this project will also increase safety to the pedestrians in that by narrowing the lanes to 10’ instead of 11’-12’ the drivers will have to be more cautious. There will also be new bike lanes put in. These bike paths will be a lowered path next to the sidewalk where riders can bike free from traffic and pedestrians can walk without the worry of bikers.

During construction the current four lanes of traffic on Michigan Street will go down to two lanes while two lanes are being worked on. All roads crossing Michigan will remain free to cross and Michigan Street itself will remain open throughout construction.

Alyssa Day, student at IUPUI, responded to the effects of this project with, “I feel like during this construction it will be inconvenient driving through campus because Michigan Street is such a major road for students. I see the benefits this will have in the long run once everyone is use to the two-way roads by making it easier to get from University to West Street, but I see so many students driving on Michigan right now and not on New York I still think there will be traffic issues going down to two lanes.”

On the other hand Josh Graham, student in the Kelley School of Business, did not feel it would change much for him. He said, “Since I drive to campus and have dealt with the traffic for so long I have my route already made to get to campus in the quickest way. I typically park in the Blackford garage and walk across Michigan Street for class but I don’t normally have to deal with Michigan Street traffic. It will be interesting to see how they change West Street since that is one street I take to leave campus and it is always so busy.”

It seems the opinion amongst the students when asked how this will affect them was closely same. It’s going to get worse before it gets better.

For more information or questions regarding the Michigan Street 2-way conversion and West Street Improvements please email: RebuildIndy@indy.gov. Subject: ST- 25- 091.