INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) - The heart of Indianapolis needs an upgrade. Monument Circle is quickly decaying and the city is set to move forward on a major overhaul.
But figuring out the design of the changes and finding the funding are two major obstacles.
It is the magnet that draws people downtown. Tourist Jeff DeLeon arrived from Philadelphia on Friday and his first stop was the focal point of Indianapolis — Monument Circle.
"Very clean, absolutely beautiful. Clean, nice city. Very friendly," says DeLeon.
DeLeon couldn’t tell, and neither have many others, but the Circle is falling apart.
"We spend about $25,000 a year, just maintaining the bricks and some of the surface level, the infrastructure that's degrading," said Stephanie Wilson from the Department of Public Works.
DPW oversees the upkeep of the circle. Wilson said the surface problems are only the tip of the iceberg.
"Now what you can't see is what's underneath the Monument Circle. And we have utilities that have been there more than 100 years and it's gotten to a point where we need to take action," Wilson said.
Action begins in 2014 with the design phase. That will last through 2015. It's putting the vision of a user-friendly, lower-maintenance circle on paper. Some of the circle won't change, including the Soldiers and Sailors Monument which is hands off, said Cynthia Bowen, who is the project manager.
"We are not going to close off to traffic. There will always be a traffic element, a vehicle or traffic element to the circle. And then the other thing — we are not going to acquire any property," Bowen says.
Curbs, sidewalks, driving and parking lanes will be rebuilt. The spoke streets of Meridian and Market are also part of the circle upgrade. But they will be fixed only when the budget allows, and may be part of a later phase of the work.
First, the estimated $60 million plan has to be funded.
"So we're leveraging federal, state, local and private dollars to reconstruct and reprogram the circle," Bowen said.
If federal funding is granted, it could pay as much as 80 percent of the cost of the project.
Construction is scheduled to begin in 2016 and finish by the end of 2017.
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