We thought it might be of interest to discuss another feature of the proposed mass transit plan - "Implementation of tolled express lanes..." - as presented in the Central Indiana Transit Task Force (CITTF) report we cited in our last post.
The suggestion is use of lanes on I-69 and I-65 which would be available to those willing to pay for "express" service. These would be new lanes added to the existing roadways. There is no indication of actual length or location of these suggested lanes.
The first thing that comes to mind is design problems, the cost and the disruption of existing traffic. If new lanes are added on either side of the current roadway, won’t all existing on/off ramp systems have to be rebuilt for the affected areas?
What about the need for additional right-of-way, particularly at ramp sites where commercial operations have developed around existing interchanges?
We think that, possibly, the most unrealistically optimistic sentence in the report is contained in this paragraph. "Additionally, the lanes would be expected to raise more than they would cost to operate, thus providing a source of funding for other transportation infrastructure in the region." (Our emphasis.)
It is further suggested that these new lanes would "ease congestion" on the freeways. Which thought brings us to consideration of the overall philosophy of the whole program.
We’re all for complete renovation and expansion of IndyGo service in order to make it possible for those who need public transportation to move about the city in a reasonably efficient way.
But, for instance, we’re talking about current improvements to I-69, plus adding toll lanes to the same area of I-69, plus adding rail service parallel to I-69. Are we being a touch redundant here?
We’ll be asked to approve a referendum on a project - actually a series of projects - with an estimated cost of $1.3 billion, to be financed through increases in yet to be determined taxes. But we are also continuing to operate, and expand, TIF districts which subsidize developers of downtown residential units. To say nothing of additional parking spaces!
Much of the verbiage of the report from the CITTF refers to the need to maintain the viability of the downtown core of Indianapolis. Yet it seems to us to pay too little attention to the fact that every mode of transportation under consideration provides egress from the city as well as ingress to the city. They're not going to be "one way" toward Monument Circle. When the project is completed, shoppers will have easier access to major malls all over "central Indiana" as well as downtown Indianapolis.
Except, of course, for rail lines which are completely inflexible as far as taking riders to a specifically desired destination.
Are we looking both directions before stepping off the curb here?