Hendricks County Flyer, Avon, IN

Westside

March 11, 2013

Proposed bus route could expand service to airport, Plainfield

The consortium behind Indy Connect, the long-range transportation plan for Central Indiana, is pushing ahead with phase one of the project, which encompasses the next 10 years.

They've been conducting public meetings on proposed mass transit lines connecting doughnut counties with downtown Indianapolis. One of those forums was last week at IndyGo headquarters to discuss the Blue Line, a 24-mile corridor along Washington Street that would connect Cumberland on the Eastside to either Indianapolis International Airport or downtown Plainfield.

John Myers of HNTB, project manager for the Blue Line, says it's considered one of the higher priorities in the Indy Connect plan.

"There are a lot of destinations along this corridor," he said. They include IUPUI, the Indianapolis Zoo and White River State Park, Plainfield Business Park and the Metropolis Mall, and of course the airport and downtown.

Planners are still pinning down its alignment, though the front-runner is Washington Street/U.S. 40 because it's already built out. That would follow IndyGo's Route 8, which is the most used in the system.

Another question is how far west to extend the Blue Line. Last year the Plainfield Connector began picking up commuters at IndyGo's Route 8 stop on Bridgeport Road between Washington Street and Perimeter Road to take them to Plainfield's industrial parks and Metropolis. Otherwise there's no regular bus service to Plainfield, and Indy Connect planners wonder whether the population density is high enough there to expand service. IIA is the highest ridership destination on the Westside for IndyGo.

One question that's much more settled is the mode of transportation that would be used. Bus rapid transit is much more economical than light rail. San Diego spends $165.4 million per mile for its light rail service. Even at its cheapest, in Salt Lake City, it's just over $51 million per mile. That would equate to about $1.2 billion just for the Blue Line corridor - about the entire Indy Connect capital expenditure budget.

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