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South Meridian Street construction delays frustrate Indianapolis neighborhood

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Road construction work on South Meridian Street a block and half south of Morris Street was supposed to have been completed in March.

The contractor told the city a material shortage caused the delay.

I-Team 8 has been told no significant work has been done on the project in weeks.  

Several times a day, for almost a year, IndyGo buses have been forced onto neighborhood streets around the road construction. One of several buses I-Team 8 witnessed on Wednesday were almost too big to make the turn from Arizona Avenue to Capitol Avenue.

One resident, Gary Kneener, told I-Team 8 that trucks race through his neighborhood day and night. “My house shakes. Trucks come through here. They tear the streets up.”

Keener says drivers have grown accustomed to cutting through neighborhood streets to get around the construction. He expects, as traffic slows down on Meridian Street during rush hour, drivers will continue to use side streets. “It’s just going to cause more wrecks.” 

“We got people come up here squealing tires. One guy spun around and hit that wall right there. It’s crazy, and you have kids on these streets.”

I-Team 8 also visited the project Nov. 2. At that time, construction material was set off to the side. The Department of Public Works said in November that the contractor had run into some problems with utilities.

On Wednesday, the sidewalks and a crosswalk are almost finished. I-Team 8 was much of the underground utility work is done. However, no one was working Wednesday, just like in November.

The South Meridian project is one of several traffic-calming projects planned across Indianapolis.

This section of South Meridian is being reduced to two lanes of traffic to make room for on-street parking, streetscaping, wider sidewalks and bicycle paths. 

Eventually, South Meridian from Arizona Avenue to East McCarty Street will get the same treatment.

The next phase of this project will run right in front of the AJ’s Lounge bar and the Greek Islands Restaurant on South Meridian. The owners of both establishments said they fear the construction will block customers from their businesses.

The city says it will close a small portion of Meridian Street next year as part of phase three of the project.

The director of the Department of Public Works was not available to comment specifically to News 8 on the issue, but said in a ‘pad and paper only’ media breakfast that he didn’t anticipate further delays due to utilities, according to a spokesperson for the Department of Public Works.