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Indy Public Works discusses two-way traffic coming to New York, Michigan streets

Indianapolis Public Works answers questions about two-way street conversion

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — The project to convert New York and Michigan streets to two-way traffic is set to start in the spring, but neighbors in the Near Eastside gave the Indianapolis Department of Public Works mixed feedback Tuesday night about the change.

Traffic engineers with Public Works told neighbors that changing New York and Michigan streets back to two-way traffic will help reduce speeding and improve safety by not allowing cars to pass each other to increase their speed.

Many in attendance were pleased with the project and the goals. Jakob Morales, a community member in the Little Flower Neighborhood who bikes to work daily, said, “I absolutely love the project. It accommodates cyclists and is accessible to pedestrians as well. It overall will just transform the street.”

The engineers and designers answering questions were faced with some people questioning why it was a goal to slow traffic in the predominately residential areas of New York and Michigan streets.

Jordan Williams, senior project manager of roadway design for the Indianapolis Department of Public Works, initially talked with News 8 about the project and shared statistics about how this can improve safety in October.

“Speed kills,” Williams said. “If you see the survivability of a human being hit by a car doing 20 versus 25 versus 30 (mph), it is unquestionable that speed is not what we want here.”

Williams’ response was met with applause from many in the audience although some people opposed the proposal.

Rebecca Frechette lives in the Bosart Brown Neighborhood on New York Street along the conversion site. She says she’s against the project and cites safety concerns about turning across two lanes of traffic going in either direction. “My neighbors at the end of New York Street are not happy with this. We don’t want the changes. We like the way it is one-way at that point.”

The project comes after 15 years of advocacy from neighborhood groups that wanted to see the safety of people living in the area prioritized over commute times.

John Franklin, executive director of the Near East Area Renewal, said he has been working to bring the project to life for 10 years. He’s excited to see it get started. “We’re trying to reclaim our neighborhoods. These streets were turned one way before Interstate 70 was put in. The traffic volumes no longer justify them as through-streets.”

The $16 million project also includes protected bike lanes and improved pedestrian infrastructure, including bumped-out crosswalks and improved sidewalks. The majority of the work will be done in the spring, although cones and signs have been placed for some of the early phases.