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Proposal would drop speed limit downtown

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — If you drive around downtown Indianapolis, you may have to watch your speed. The Indianapolis City-County Council will soon vote on whether to drop the speed limit to 25 mph in the Mile Square district. 

The city’s Department of Public Works said a majority of the areas with the highest number of serious accidents are located downtown. 

Bob Willsey said he knows all too well what can happen downtown if drivers aren’t careful. Last year   his daughter-in-law was crossing Delaware at St. Clair streets on foot with the right-of-way when a driver hit her. 

“Somebody was trying to beat the light turning left onto Delaware Street from St. Clair and hit her from behind,” he said. 

The car’s impact flipped her into the air. 

“She had injuries to her face, a concussion, knocked out some teeth,” he said, adding she is still dealing with those injuries. 

The Department of Public Works said a majority of dangerous corridors are in the downtown area and more pedestrians are hit downtown than elsewhere. 

That’s why the city is considering dropping the speed limit in the Mile Square, the heartbeat of downtown, to 25 mph. Right now, speed limits can be as high as 35 mph.

The goal is to make downtown safer for people walking. 

Thursday night, the proposal passed out of committee ready for a full council vote.     

Some councilors still had concerns. 

“We have a lot of flaws in our ordinances that are toothless because they are difficult to enforce,” said Councilor Christine Scales, a Democrat. 

Scales said she’s worried Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department does not have the resources to ticket speeding drivers.

“People do know that there’s very little risk to an officer being around when they do either run a spot light or speed or whatever,” she said.  

As Indianapolis hosts more major conferences and sporting events, Willsey said he thinks slower driving speeds could help handle the city’s high growth. 

“There’s so many people down there now. It’s not like it was 30 years ago,” he said. 

Another component of the initial proposal would have added more areas where drivers cannot turn on red downtown. That component was removed from the proposal on Thursday night. 

Supporters of that component said a majority of pedestrians hit by vehicles in the last five years were struck when the vehicle was turning. Those against said the change would bottleneck traffic too much and that the proposed reduced speed would be enough change.