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Monon Trail to Close north of 75th Street

According to a story last weekon local media outlet WTHR, the Monon Trail north of 75th Street is planned to be closed for drainage work this coming October. The report indicates that the trail will be closed for 30-45 days while drainage work, repaving and widening of the trail can be performed. There is a slight chance that work could be pushed off until spring, when ridership is sparse, but the final plan is not set in stone.

Monon Trail looking north at 75th Street (image credit: Curt Ailes)

Monon Trail looking north at 75th Street (image credit: Curt Ailes)

Those who use the Monon to get to work, to get groceries or simply to exercise will agree with me when you say, “Wait, what? CLOSED?” The initial plan being pitched by DPW is that the Monon would close completely so that work can be completed quickly.

Indeed, drainage work will likely go a long way towards curing the ill’s that occur in this area. When a significant amount of rain occurs, the side yard of the private property located at the corner of 75th & Westfield fills up with water and I can only surmise that the planned drainage work will aim to cure this ill. Additionally, the story indicates that the trail will be widened which will also be welcome since the trail is narrow as it heads north of 75th street.

However, is the 30 to 45 day time period of total closure worth the hardship that riders will endure? For those who rely upon a bike to get to places north or south of here, this will be a MAJOR issue. The Monon is the only safe bicycle artery in this area. When you examine the map below, College Ave or Westfield Blvd appear to be reasonable options in the interim. However, both of these roads are very automobile oriented in nature, lacking sidewalks or bicycle side paths and generally take cyclists far out of the way of the Monon. Additionally, if you have ever driven on either of these stretches, observed average speed would make it unsafe for a trained cyclists let alone novice riders or walkers. One could make that case that either road could be used if certain accommodations were made for cyclists to travel with confidence on them such as temporary striping or soft bollards.

Trail map w/ closure area in purple (image credit: Google Maps)

Trail map w/ closure area in purple (image credit: Google Maps)

Jamison Hutchins with the Indianapolis Office of Sustainability encouraged any interested parties to voice suggestions about possible detours or other ways to avoid the hardship that will be posed to cyclists by this project by attending a forum that will be hosted on Tuesday, September 18th at the nearby Indiana School for the Blind. The forum will be held from 5:30pm to 6:30pm.

14 Responses to “ “Monon Trail to Close north of 75th Street”

  1. cisko says:

    Thanks for highlighting this, Curt. I hadn’t heard about it until now.

    There was major rain debris on the trail in that area last weekend. I’m sure it’s a serious flooding issue. But it’ll be a hardship. My wife and I (and many others, I’m sure) rely on the Monon for long-distance runs in training for the upcoming fall races, like the Indy Marathon and the Indianapolis Monumental. Closing it during October will be a big problem for us.

    I’d love to see this used to drive better bike protections for College and/or Westfield, they’re really needed. Pedestrians would still be out of luck though.

    I’d like to see the city consider postponing the project until November. I don’t know what the winter bike commute population is — I’m sure it’s growing quickly — but it can only be less than the summer/fall population.

  2. Kevin says:

    The safest detour I see is heading west on 75th Street to Pennsylvania and back east on 82nd. Then go north on College to 84th, turn east until it turns into Evergreen, which has direct Monon Access via the Kroger parking lot. I can not find a route that avoids both College and 86th Streets, unfortunately. But 2 blocks on College is probably safer than 11 blocks. I would also not recommend riding on this section of Westfield.

  3. Eric says:

    Good observations, Curt. It would be interesting to see how this develops, along with the sluggish pace at which the push for a 24-hour Monon access has advanced.

  4. cisko says:

    I tweeted @IndyDPW and got this reply: “We’re working on an alternate schedule. Join us at the public mtg 9/18 @ Indiana School for the Blind at 5:30- we’ll have details.”

    It’s not going to be great at any time of year, but for me it’d be a big help to push it out of October. We’ll see what they are planning now.

  5. Mike says:

    It would be nice if the sidewalk on college didn’t stop at the school for the blind and visually impaired and continued all the way to 86th St. I’m guessing the people in Williams Creek stopped the path from heading any further north.

  6. Casey says:

    I’m looking forward to the meeting since I use this Trail to get to the YMCA and Nora. There is no way I would venture onto Westfield Blvd with my bike let alone with my son in the trailer. Too often when projects are being created the alt route is not considered until some one steps up and says “Hey did you consider that some people use this as a way to get around not just for leisure!”. Thanks for keeping us in the loop Mr Ailes.

  7. Christopher says:

    Whoa. I hadn’t heard about this. Completely shutting down this section of the Monon basically cuts off any really safe way through this corridor. Kevin’s proposal is the best bet, and I wonder if they can open up any path between 78th and the Trail, if there’s anything already there that might be possible. Even still, the shoulder is next to non-existent on that stretch of College.

    If I remember right, Andy at DPW mentioned that for any street closures due to construction, a detour must be considered and routed. I’m sure this is different given its status as a multi-use linear park, and not an actual travel corridor, but still.

    This is no good. This is cutting off THE singular corridor for bikes to travel safely between Nora and B.Rip (and beyond, obviously).

  8. Kevin Whited says:

    Curt, thanks for posting this and to everyone interested/concerned, please attend the meeting next week at the School for the Blind. We (INDYCOG) were involved with a meeting last week where DPW discussed this project with IndyParks and a few other departments within the City. Here is our interpretation of what transpired.

    Fall was originally picked by the contractors because the weather is much more consistent than Spring. Consistent and warmer weather means two things, more work days and the asphalt plants will be open (they shut down in winter). More and warmer work days also means shorter partial or total closure of the Monon and a good surface to ride, run and walk on when the project is complete (otherwise we may get a packed down gravel trail or rough concrete until asphalt is again available). After a number of people gave their input, It was concluded that it would be better to move the construction to early-spring as to impact trail users less.

    Another idea that came out of this meeting was to financially incentivize the construction contractors to speed up the work. There probably will be a time and if they go with the expedited route, then the the Monon will be completely closed but our other option is giving us (bicyclists/other trailer users) limited access which would cause the construction time to increase by up to several weeks. I know that sounds crazy but it was explained (& I have some experience in this area as well so it doesn’t sound that far fetched) that due to limited right of way space and direct access to the area that equipment would need to be backed in and out daily from 75th st which can add ~ hour on both sides of the day (i.e 8 hour work day turns into 6 hour work day). Also, due to the limited right of way and size of equipment, it would be very difficult to keep the trail open while the physical work is being completed.

    DPW & IndyParks said they would work with INDYCOG and any other interested parties to help find detours around the project. During that meeting we (INDYCOG) discussed the limited access in that area due to the traffic volumes/speeds on both College and Westfield. There was discussion to find a detour through the Blind School but school officials have security concerns, as you may imagine.

    In conclusion, come to the meeting next week to voice your concerns but we did want everyone to know that the City/DPW and IndyParks has and is putting a lot of thought into this project so as not to totally disrupt our lives on the trail. Also, if anyone would like to help INDYCOG look for safe and suitable detours, let us know.

    P.S. I noticed Eric had mentioned something about the glacial speed of the trail access decision being made by IndyParks. Next week (Wed) there is a IndyParks Board meeting where they will discuss Monon Trail hours. I’ve been told that they are pushing 5am – 10 (or possibly 11) pm trail usage hours but that they would be open to extending the hours in the future. INDYCOG, while agreeable to working with IndyParks on this project and happy to see the trail hours moving in the right direction, will not be content without 24/7 access which is what we’ve been pushing for since our campaign in 2011.

  9. T1 says:

    Looks like some good feedback and input. From the 30,000 foot view, this stretch is not going to negatively affect peoples lives in such a way that this project should not be pushed while weather permits. You really have until Nov. 15th to do any sort of foundations, lay concrete, etc. Remember, you and thousands of others will be using this stretch for many years to come so you want it designed and constructed properly and for the long term; not like Georgia Street downtown or some other “pet project” that gets poor design and is rushed. Your priority should be quality design and construction not rush of schedule.

    You do not want it done ahead of schedule for an incentive and you do not want to act like this project will ruin your lives; there are much more trying events around that others have to deal with. All said, I would suggest getting a defined project schedule and plan (what work is being done) and holding DPW and Parks to that.

    As far as other routes, I saw Penn was mentioned, etc. There are plenty of other options to get around that stretch and it seems the right people are giving input for those options.

  10. Bill Yeadon says:

    Thank you for this update as there seems to be very little information available anywhere except for this blog. As I am out of town this week hopefully you can fill us in on the meeting results.

    I agree that pushing this out till November is the lesser of the evils, but I also understand that the path has been detreiorating for quite some time around the Blind School.

  11. Justin says:

    You know, as a guy who rides on the south and east sides of town, the idea of having access to any bike path that actually went somewhere useful at all sounds pretty nice. It’s a month, the same thing happens to roads all the time — usually for many, many months.

    I routinely go biking on Washington Street east and west of 465, Emerson, Southeastern, and everywhere else around here — all with no path or bike lane. All because I don’t have the luxury of living along the one really nice path we have in town.

  12. Rick says:

    Sooner rather than later is better in my opinion. I ride the trail twice a week for pleasure. It will be inconvenient, but folks can deal. It was inconvenient when they closed down I-65 to work on it, but it is better now. The Monon was closed for months when they put in the bridge over Carmel drive and is closed for 6 months while they put one in over 146th. Constructions is a necessary evil and that stretch of the trail is washing out. Best to get it fixed now. I too live on the south side of town and don’t have the luxury of a dedicated trail. Shoot, they aren’t even putting in sidewalks on a 2 mile stretch of Emerson that is being widened, yet there is a new off-street multi-use trail going in on 62nd. So, sorry, but little sympathy here.

  13. Gene ODonnell says:

    It is my impression that the project has been planned in a way that will cause the least disruption possible while producing the best reasonable end result.

    The one element that would help the most would be some accommodation for riders on the alternate routes. For example, a temporary bike lane northbound on Westfield and southbound on College would take up a limited amount of the road, but allow for reasonably safe bike traffic. Good marking of the alternate routes would inform the cycling community.

  14. Bill Malcolm says:

    Went to DPW hearing tonight. They are still considering a fall closure. No detour route has been identified. For bike commuters through this area, this is still bad news.

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