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Lilly/KIB’s I-70 Westside Improvements this week

Sam Jones Expressway Interchange

Sam Jones Expressway Interchange

For the past two year’s, Eli Lilly & Co have been volunteering in community improvement activities that have had positive impacts. This year, they are partnering with Keep Indianapolis Beautiful (KIB) in an effort to help beautify the west side of Indianapolis along the I-70 corridor. Long has this stretch been one of industrial or run down nature. Lilly & KIB aim to change that this week. On Thursday october 7th, nearly 9000 volunteers will participate in a 12 hour marathon to improve a number of interstate interchanges from the Sam Jones expressway on the west side, to downtown at the project’s eastern-most point.

Downtown Interchanges

Downtown Interchanges

Lilly & KIB have partnered with local artists in an effort to transform each interchange into one of beauty. Various improvements from simply planting natural foliage, to erecting artwork in the form of totem poles will serve to transform this stretch of roadway into what organizers hope will be a gateway for visitors and residents, into the core of the region.

The project hasn’t come without it’s share of scrutiny. As with anything road related in this region, people tend to get boisterous when anyone messes with the usual commuting patterns. In that regard, I-70 will be closed from 6am-6pm that day. If you are a glutton for punishment and enjoy reading the comments section of any website, the local newspaper, The Indianapolis Star has had it’s share of detractors. Many people have offered the suggestion that organizers should have did this on a weekend… or not at all.”What’s the point?” some commenters have suggested.

The point is to have some civic pride and take action. Others have suggested that the scale of the projects are too small to produce the expected reaction.

Harding Street Interchange

Harding Street Interchange

Personally, I feel that Indianapolis has too great a number of people who simply don’t care about what happens around here so long as they have smooth roads to drive on, bars to go to and the city isn’t taking their money. Too often, our landscape is left to depreciate while people simply go about their personal lives expecting that someone else is going to take up the staff and improve the city. In that regard, I applaud the thousands of people involved with this year’s Lilly day of service. I am very excited to see how this project turns out and will be taking a trip through after it’s completion to survey the improved landscape.

For more information about Lilly’s October 7th day of service, visit their website.

(Images Source: http://www.agreenerwelcome.org)

2 Responses to “ “Lilly/KIB’s I-70 Westside Improvements this week”

  1. Micah says:

    It’s nice to see KIB and LILLY partner to help beautify areas that are merely afterthoughts of the public space realm. From a design standpoint, I am most impressed with the Harding Street Interchange. I think the strong lines of trees that follow the old street grid (from the days of no interstate highways) will make a stronger statement visually than the other two. I would have submitted a ‘greener’ theme however: a minimalistic/modern Peter Walker approach. Strong, repetitious lines/masses/grids of native plant species along the whole corridor accented with local environmental art works (or sculptures) may be less maintenance than what is proposed BUT–due to the scale–would make a much larger statement visually (especially from the car!). A simplified version of the proposed Harding Street Interchange would be a start in the right direction.

  2. Forget about the detractors who say things like “what’s the point?”. One of the most important things about this project, aside from a sense of civic pride, is the fact that this artery into Indianapolis is the first and last thing out-of-towners see when they visit. As it stands now, I-70 on the west side is quite a depressing thing to see coming into the city.

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