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Group calls for state leaders to 'rethink' before they rebuild the North Split

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) -- Major changes are on the way for one of the most heavily traveled interchanges in Indianapolis.

The Indiana Department of Transportation (INDOT) is planning to rebuild the North Split -- where Interstates 65 and 70 meet near East 10th Street and College and Massachusetts avenues in downtown Indianapolis. Not everyone is happy with the proposal, though, and a local group is calling on state leaders to rethink it.

Members of the Rethink 65/70 Coalition say they know that stretch of interstate is past its useful life and due for some major upgrades, but if upgrades are not done carefully, they could have lasting negative impacts on the city.

A few dozen people gathered Thursday afternoon to spread their message and pass out yard signs. They want to see an objective and comprehensive study done before a $250 million project to revamp I-65 and I-70 moves forward.

"We as a community deserve nothing less. We will live with the outcome of this project for generations. We have but one opportunity to get it right," said Marsh Davis, president of Indiana Landmarks.

The group says the changes will not only stunt economic growth, but also have a negative impact on adjacent neighborhoods.

"We know that if they widen it, it will repeat the mistake that was made back in the (1960s) that ran these neighborhoods down in the first place," said Marjorie Kienle, past president of Historic Urban Neighborhoods of Indianapolis (HUNI).

INDOT released a statement to say there was a study of the project underway.

"INDOT is still early in the environmental review process on the North Split reconstruction project. Multiple alternatives are being evaluated, including at least two alternatives put forward by community groups. No decision has been made on a preferred alternative, and we are more than a year from completing preliminary design. Final design will not occur until after completion of the environmental review process. INDOT encourages all stakeholders to continue to be engaged in the project and offer input as we move forward."

A spokesperson for INDOT said the department planned to host public meetings later this spring when an alternative screening report has been completed. They will ask the public to review their findings and weigh in on which option they prefer.

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