I'm just home from Indianapolis, where our firm is beginning work on something called a Comprehensive Operational Analysis (COA) update. The project is shaping up to be an important step in the transit vision for the city.
Many parts of Indianapolis are seeing a remarkable revitalization. Dense housing is growing fast in and around the walkable downtown core, galvanized by public works like the Cultural Trail and a strong base of downtown parks, monuments, state government, universities, and cultural institutions. There are even canals lined with housing, much like the Dutch might build.
Many neighborhoods are also vibrant and growing. The northern suburbs include Carmel, famous not just as the "Roundabout Capital of the US" but also for a very strong walkable downtown. Carmel is the sort of massive suburban transformation that is common in the west coast and northeast but still unusual — in its sheer scale — in midwest metros of Indy's size. The critical mass around walkable urban development is clearly developing fast in and around Indy, making it an important city to watch especially for its midwestern peers.
Sometime in the next couple of years, voters will be asked whether they want to make a commitment to improved transit service. That vision, called IndyConnect, includes a series of Bus Rapid Transit corridors but not much detail on how the total network would work. Our study (for the regional planning agency, Indianapolis MPO, as well as the transit agency IndyGo) will help build a clear and costed set of scenarios for how the total transit network could improve, extending the benefits of the rapid transit element well beyond the specific corridors it serves and telling a story about benefits to the entire metro area. (We also have a practical short term task, which is to figure out how to rearrange bus routes downtown to work with a new transit center opening next year.)
There will be plenty of opportunities for public comment over the next six months as the planning process proceeds. We look forward to lots of great conversations about this exciting and fast-changing city.
Photo: Chris Hamby