Printer Friendly

Rapid transit: central Indiana plans for transportation future.

TRIPS TO THE STATEHOUSE, airport and popular museums and shopping spots could become easier for visitors to the state capital, who wouldn't have to drive all the way in to their destination if plans proceed for a Marion County rapid-transit system. The same system would also provide quick daily commutes for residents.

Interest picked up speed at recent public-input meetings, where a six-spoked system feeding in all directions to and from downtown Indianapolis was proposed.

A decision to move into the next phase--an engineering and financial-feasibility study for a project that could top $2.5 billion, the amount an area this size is expected to be able to support--now rests with the Indianapolis Regional Transportation Council (IRTC).

The 40-member group, representing public agencies in Marion and surrounding counties, is being asked for a thumbs-up, reports Mike Dearing, manager of the Indianapolis Metropolitan Planning Organization, which is spearheading the studies and plans.

Three options are under consideration: bus rapid transit on fixed-path, reserved highway lanes; light-rail transit on standard rail lines; and automated guideway transit similar to the elevated Clarian People Mover serving hospitals in downtown Indianapolis.

If and once a plan and transit method are chosen, implementation would be done in stages, taking 15 to 20 years before a full system would be in place, Dearing estimates.

"Very informed individuals showed up at our February meetings, asking informed questions. They were enthusiastic for what we're trying to accomplish," Dearing says. "There were some misgivings about corridors and routes as they would affect their neighborhoods, which we anticipated. And we have alternate routes."

The public meetings and presentation to the IRTC were the end of the second phase of what the Metropolitan Planning Organization has dubbed "Directions: The Rapid Transit Study to Improve Regional Mobility."

Initial work began in December 2002 and ended last September. In Phase One, planners determined the likely scope and primary travel corridors for the system. Suggested corridors stem from down town Indianapolis, where a terminal would be built, to Avon, Cumberland, Fishers/ Noblesville, Greenwood, Zionsville and the Indianapolis International Airport.

In Phase One, planners also narrowed the possible transit technologies to the three being considered. The bus rapid transit (BRT) would use a fixed path, perhaps a reserved highway lane. Light rail transit (LRT), using diesel or electricity, would move the most people because cars are easily added. Automated guideway transit (AGT), already a familiar system in Indianapolis, operates on elevated guideways above the traffic flow.

Consideration of the options included studies of other communities, too, such as San Diego, St. Louis, San Antonio, Pittsburgh and Vancouver. St. Louis, for example, has a light-rail system running from its airport to the downtown area and across the Mississippi River into Illinois, and an additional route is now under construction. Vancouver's SkyTrain system runs two lines in and out of the downtown area. For Dearing, the need [or similar rapid transit in central Indiana is clear, but he also says all modes of transportation must be included and coordinated.

"We're seeing the beginnings, the indications of congestion," Dearing cautions. "We can't continue to build roads and do nothing else. We run out of room for lanes."

Instead, he believes, "The full transportation system has to consist of all the modes of transportation"--even pedestrian.

"We can't depend on one mode to satisfy our needs indefinitely Even if we build high-tech transit, we still have to use existing modes efficiently. We have to work together to move people around," he says. "We have to have as many possibilities for moving people around as we can. We term this 'high-tech transit' an 'interstate for transit.' We need an interstate for transit to move people efficiently and in large numbers. And we also need bike paths, rubber-tire transit and highways."

Just which of the three proposed systems would be best remains to be seen "There are gives and takes for each one of the technologies we're talking about," Dearing says.

"Bus rapid transit is the easiest to implement, but operational costs are high. The automated guideway is the most expensive to build, but operating costs are very low because it's all automated, operated from a distant control center," he explains. "Hopefully, we'll build a system that will pay for itself in the long run."

Dearing says he's optimistic. "The evidence we're seeing both technical and support-wise points toward something happening, although it may be different configurations than the six corridors we're proposing."
COPYRIGHT 2004 Curtis Magazine Group, Inc.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2004 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

Article Details
Printer friendly Cite/link Email Feedback
Title Annotation:Regional Report Central
Comment:Rapid transit: central Indiana plans for transportation future.(Regional Report Central)
Author:Mayer, Kathy
Publication:Indiana Business Magazine
Geographic Code:1U3IN
Date:Apr 1, 2004
Previous Article:Hard hit.
Next Article:Indiana stocks.

Related Articles
A 50-year plan for metropolitan Portland.
Highways to hell: bikes and buses battle the road, tire and asphalt lobby.
Infrastructure Finance.
Making room for transit.
The FasTrack to gridlock.
Table 81: full-time law enforcement employees as of October 31, 2004.
Survey on Clinton transportation needs under review.

Terms of use | Copyright © 2018 Farlex, Inc. | Feedback | For webmasters