Budget plans include trail investments, safety improvements for pedestrians, cyclists

Projects to repave roads in dire need, improve bridges and build new trails are all getting millions of dollars in funding.

INDIANAPOLIS — Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett’s proposed budget that the City-County Council will soon consider includes plans to invest more than $1 billion in the city’s infrastructure over the next five years. 

Projects to repave roads in dire need, improve bridges and build new trails are all getting millions of dollars in funding.

Bike advocates around the city are hopeful that the city’s massive investment in transportation will help bring about improved safety measures for pedestrians and cyclists in Indianapolis. 

Hanging outside the state fairgrounds Wednesday afternoon, Bicycle Indiana interim director Summer Keown helps check cyclists in for the pedal and park valet, a free place to park your bike for residents cycling their way to the Indiana State Fair. So far, Keown said they’ve seen hundreds of cyclists swing by. 

“We are seeing more and more people ride all the time,” Keown said. 

Hogsett’s budget for next year proposes funneling $1.15 billion dollars to the city’s infrastructure over the next few years, with $849 million going toward transportation. That breaks down to $387 million for streets, $126 million for bridges, $29 million for sidewalks and $98 million for trails, greenways and paths. 

RELATED: Public safety, infrastructure top of mind in Hogsett’s 2023 budget proposal

Repaving roads to the tune of $25 million will go a long way toward improving driving conditions in residential areas, said Dan Parker, director of the Indianapolis Department of Public Works. That money will be focused on residential streets reported in the worst conditions around Indianapolis. 

“Anyone who drives a residential street in Indianapolis knows that those are the streets that need it,” Parker said. “So $25 million will be targeted directly to neighborhoods that city councilors have worked with us on to identify.”

With more Indy residents utilizing the ever-growing greenways and paths around the city, the budget will also include money to make those spaces safer. 

“For the first time in our budget, in the capital plan, $1 million every year to do traffic safety improvements. So anything that could come up, whether it be a bump out here, crosswalks, what have you, we’ll have the money built into the capitol budget to do those improvements,” Parker said. 

The Department of Public Works is also taking steps to address issues with streets and intersections following a fatal crash by utilizing a fatality review team. 

“And so, for the first time in engineering, we’re going to have a traffic safety engineer that’s going to be able to take a look at those fatal crashes, look at the environmental factors related to fatal crashes. Not just driver error, but is any environmental factors causing it,” Parker said. 

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That will be key, Parker said, as the city continues with plans to build and expand on existing trail systems around the city over the next few years. It’s welcome news for avid cyclists like John Taylor, who said he often worries about his safety around reckless drivers on the roads. 

“I think anytime a cyclist or pedestrian gets hit or killed, there should be someone looking at the situation and what caused it,” Taylor said. 

Keown said with those expansions, she wants to ensure the city considers safe trail crossings, too. 

“We need to make sure that the city is taking a comprehensive look at our roadways, that we are looking at things like bridges, like the one behind me, when it’s possible. I know they are more expensive but in some areas, they will save a lot of lives,” Keown said. 

Parker said they’ll also be making more space for pedestrians and cyclists on roadways. 

“We also have the city’s first three road diet projects. And what a road diet is, is taking a street that’s say four lanes, shrinking it down to three, and adding more space for pedestrians,” he said. “So next year, the first road diet project will be under construction on West Michigan Street from White River Parkway over to Bellmont and that bike path will be able to connect, that we’re going to install, will connect the B&O trail over to the White River Trail and the bike trail that runs through IUPUI. So we’re really looking at the streets in the city that could be put on a diet, we don’t need as many lanes as were built, say, 50 years ago.”

RELATED: Ride Of Silence honors cyclists killed, injured on Indianapolis roads

“And I’ve read the new trail initiative, will be some good things. But as much money as you put there, you’re going to have more cyclists out on the road,” Taylor said. “They need to be protected as well.”

With these new safety measures in sight for Indy’s roadways, Keown said these are important steps to take in making sure everyone feels comfortable hitting the road. 

“But we still have a long way to go until we can call ourselves a bike-friendly city,” she said. 

The Indianapolis Department of Public Works will present to the Public Works Committee Thursday night, expected to vote on a $40 million boost to DPW’s budget this year.  

The City-County Council is expected to deliberate on budget plans through October. 

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