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Deadly hit-and-run reignites fight to bring Blue Line to Irvington

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Five people died on Friday in six crashes.

Two of the victims were a teenager and a child.

News of the child’s death has reignited a push from families to make streets safer. For people in Irvington, that means bringing IndyGo’s Blue Line bus rapid transit route to their neighborhood.

The rapid-transit bus line would travel along Washington Street between the town of Cumberland on Marion County’s east border and the Indianapolis International Airport. That’s a 24-mile stretch. The Blue Line is expected to cost $200 million. It will be the final phase of the Marion County Transit Plan, coming after the Red Line that connects the University of Indianapolis to Broad Ripple, and the Purple Line, that will connect downtown to Lawrence.

Reckless driving on East Washington Street has pushed parents to the limit.

“People fly down Washington Street, 40 mph in a school zone, and there’s children riding their bikes, walking to school,” said parent Brent Stinson.

News 8 has highlighted several stories involving issues on Washington Street. Back in September, 7-year-old Hannah Crutchfield was hit and killed while crossing the street with her mom and a crossing guard.

Stinson said, for many families, the solution to the problem is simple.

“The Blue Line will bring a lot of traffic-calming patterns to Washington Street. It will slow down traffic a bit, at least we hope. It will make people a little more cognizant that it is a pedestrian thoroughfare as well as a vehicular thoroughfare,” Stinson said.

Construction of the bus route has been met with backlash from the start. In 2021, state Sen. Aaron Freeman who represents the southeast side of Indianapolis told News 8 he doubts both the future and financial viability of rapid bus transit.

“And if you’re a commuting person who needs to get to work by car, good luck,” the Republican state senator from Indianapolis said.

For families in Irvington and other neighborhoods on the east side, the fight means a little more, especially after a child was hit waiting for the school bus Friday morning.

“The child who was hit and killed today, not in our neighborhood, not along the Blue Line, but this kind of activism and awareness can spread through the neighborhood and every time I think a kid is injured or hit by vehicle, it kind of rehashes all of that for the community,” Stinson said.

Stinson says neighbors have taken a more active role on the issue. He said a group of parents and kids even went to the Statehouse to show support for the Blue Line.

“You know we’re kind of keeping an eye on what’s happening with this legislation and with our neighborhood and, you know, kind of the thoroughfare that runs through the heart of the neighborhood,” Stinson said.

Stinson says many people also believe the Blue Line can help businesses because it will make the neighborhood more accessible.