Business owners apprehensive about South Meridian road project underway
INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Meridian Street south of downtown Indianapolis will look considerably different by this time in 2024.
The Indianapolis Department of Public Works is closing sections of the road to make the improvements, but the street closures are coming with a heavy price for many of the longtime business owners along the stretch of road.
Angela Stergiopoulos, the owner of The Greek Islands Restaurant on South Meridian, is apprehensive of the improvements. “So, yeah, it does. People get lost. They don’t know how to get here. They are not familiar with the area.”
The asphalt from Ray Street to Morris Street along South Meridian is gone. The operators moving the levers of the dirt-moving equipment are carving the landscape.
An artist rendering shows what the section of South Meridian is expected to look like when finished: wider sidewalks, clearly marked on-street parking, and reducing the travel lanes from four to two.
Stergiopoulos says the business community welcomes the changes, if they can survive the construction. “I think it is going to be beautiful and something this side of town needs. At the end of the day, it is going to be awesome for everybody, but until we get there it is going to be a real headache for everyone.”
Part of the headache is getting customers around the construction.
AJ’s Lounge depends on customers navigating their way around the barricades, through residential streets and into an alley that leads to their parking lot. For potential patrons, that means going several blocks out of the way.
The South Meridian Street project is being done in three phases. The first phase from Morris south to Arizona Street is several months behind schedule. A Public Works spokesperson says the road is expected to be open next week.
The second phase is underway.
The third phase will close South Meridian from McCarty Street to Ray Street, or from Shapiro’s Delicatessen to Iozzo’s Garden of Italy restaurant, which includes The Greek Islands Restaurant. On Friday, the only access to that area was through a private parking lot that leads to closed section of Illinois Street.
Public Works says it’s not expecting any further delays.
“Indy DPW recognizes that construction is disruptive, which is why we have been proactively communicating with area residents and businesses as we work on the stormwater improvements, streetscape beautification and safety initiatives included in this $7.8 million project. The department has continued meeting regularly with the neighborhood since the time that unrecorded utilities were discovered in the project area, resulting in delays to phase one of the project.
“While the project saw these initial delays, Indy DPW has worked ahead to check for unrecorded utilities prior to the start of phases two and three so that similar delays do not occur. The project remains on track to be completed on the adjusted construction timeline:
“• Closures related to the first phase of the project between Wisconsin Street and just south of Morris Street are expected to open next week.
“• Phase two began earlier this month and will be completed later this year. Meridian Street is closed between Ray and Morris streets as part of phase two.
“• Meridian Street will then be open for vehicular traffic until the start of phase three in Spring 2024.
“• During phase three, Meridian Street will be closed between Ray and McCarty streets.”
Indianapolis Department of Public Works statement