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46th Street Rebuild Indy Critique

46th just east of the Monon Trail (image credit: Curt Ailes)

46th just east of the Monon Trail (image credit: Curt Ailes)

The Indianapolis DPW contracted this job out during 2011. I am not 100% sure of the overall scope involved since I have seen reconstruction of 46th from College Ave all the way to Emerson and even beyond that. For the purposes of this post, I am going to focus on the section that is bounded by College Ave on the west and Keystone Ave on the east; the portion that I have personally witnessed a change worth reporting on.

New sidewalk on 46th Street funded by Rebuild Indy (image credit: Curt Ailes)

New sidewalk on 46th Street funded by Rebuild Indy (image credit: Curt Ailes)

Previously, I critiqued the effort that transformed 52nd street. That project was a debacle that I hope our criticism may have helped influence. Indeed, comparing the 46th street rebuild to the 52nd one, it would appear that the right design goals were set.

46th St Before (image credit: Google Streetview)

46th St Before (image credit: Google Streetview)

The major improvements along this stretch include:

  • Resurfacing of the road.
  • Conversion from 4 lanes of traffic, to three lanes and addition of 2 bike lanes
  • Rebuilding crumbling sidewalks.
  • Creating new greenfield sidewalks

The 2nd tick-point is the one I want to celebrate the most. You can see in the “before” picture that 46th street in this area used to be comprised of 2 auto-lanes in each direction. This project saw the reconfiguration of that to 1 auto travel lane in each direction, a center turn lane and a bike lane added on the shoulder of each side of the street.

46th St After (image credit: Curt Ailes)

46th St After (image credit: Curt Ailes)

 

Additionally, most sidewalks that were reconstructed did not involve the need to move utility poles. However, the stretch along Arsenal Park where a new sidewalk was added, was stepped back from the street so that a grass setback now exists where some utility poles are located. This accomplished two things; first the added safety from pedestrians being located away from auto travel lanes and second, conflicts between the sidewalk and utility poles were avoided.

46th St Crossing the Monon Trail (image credit: Curt Ailes)

46th St Crossing the Monon Trail (image credit: Curt Ailes)

On the east side of the Monon Trail, parking was retained along the north side of the street with the westbound bike lane being located adjacent to the parked cars. it is conceivable that cyclists could be “doored” here, so I would caution that anyone travelling there be extra vigilant. However, the elimination of the center turn lane represents more of the road-diet lifestyle that this project took on.

46th looking West approaching the Monon (image credit: Curt Ailes)

46th looking West approaching the Monon (image credit: Curt Ailes)

The portions east of Keystone Avenue are not yet completed. I know that the street was resurfaced and some concrete median work was done. I have also seen bike lanes on 46th Street east of Emerson Avenue, although I have not driven along there. It is my hope that the bike lanes that end at Keystone will travel across Allisonville Road, Binford Blvd and Emerson Ave to create a seemless path from College Ave east that interfaces with the Monon Trail as well as the Allisonville Road bike lanes.

Bike Lane Striping on 46th Street (image credit: Curt Ailes)

Bike Lane Striping on 46th Street (image credit: Curt Ailes)

Overall, I am majorly pleased with this project. It represents the promotion of cyclists and recognizes the need for fewer auto travel lanes and the design reflects it. No utility poles conflicted with sidewalks, and new sidewalks were setback away from the street for the safety of pedestrians. I cannot find anything to complain about with this project. It is the benchmark for how all 4-lane 2-way city streets should be handled moving forward. Good job Indy DPW!

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5 Responses to “ “46th Street Rebuild Indy Critique”

  1. Chris Barnett says:

    Curt, from Binford to Emerson the old slightly-raised concrete median was removed or paved over. I ran through there last week before lane markings were painted (and noticed the bike marking east of Emerson). It sure seems wide enough for a couple of bike lanes Binford-Emerson, hope it happens.

  2. Looks good. I’d love to see the suicide lane become a tree-line boulevard, but that’s probably asking for too much.

  3. ahow628 says:

    “Conversion from 4 lanes of traffic, to three lanes and addition of 2 bike lanes”
    “The 2nd tick-point is the one I want to celebrate the most. You can see in the “before” picture that 46th street in this area used to be comprised of 2 auto-lanes in each direction. This project saw the reconfiguration of that to 1 auto travel lane in each direction, a center turn lane and a bike lane added on the shoulder of each side of the street.”
    .
    Some people disagreed or at least were apathetic when I whined about this on the stretch of Shelby from Pleasant Run down to Troy. I still call it a huge failure as the maintained four lanes (restricted parking in the outer two) and sharrows in the middle two. Barf. They should have done away with the parking completely (there were two cars in the southbound and three in the northbound) on that 1.5 miles stretch.
    .
    Good for them pulling this off up on 46th street.

    • TJ says:

      I would love to see a similar critique about Shelby Street that is as informative as this one. Not to take away from 46th Street, which seems to be a project done better, but the Shelby corridor to me is a mixture of successes and failures. The median stretch from Troy to Pleasant Run is stupid, yeah it’s a compromise but as mentioned there was little vehicles parked in the parking lane and it takes away from the configuration of the rest of the road. Both north and south of this stretch however a far better with the cycle track along the west side of the road and the south it appears just like the 46th Street example with two travel lanes, a median turn lane and bike lanes on both sides. Both of these sections are very acceptable, it’s a shame that the middle section couldn’t. I’m sorry if this appears that I’m talking out of context with this particular article but I needed to vent my own opinions about some of these street projects.

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