Over the past couple of years, urban freeways through downtowns throughout the country have been closed for short periods for construction. Notably, Los Angeles has the distinction of using the term “carmageddon” to characterize the perceived chaos that might ensue from the short term closure of such important roadways.
The latest downtown freeway closure to take place is locally; right here in Indianapolis. Dubbed “Survive the Split” by local media, the short section through downtown Indy where I-65 and I-70 combine was closed for 59 days earlier this month, to lower the roadway underneath a number of local street bridges. 18 wheeler trucks with over-height loads have repeatedly been subjected to the low overhead bridge beams and INDOT finally had enough and decided to fix the “problem” by lowering the roadway. Estimates of the cost are approximately $20 million.
This past Friday, I was able to snap some photos of the project. The freeway, which feeds thousands of commuters daily to downtown Indianapolis, is a large dirt road. For the past week, Twitter and local media have covered various anecdotal cases where local street traffic has been hung up for longer than normal periods. This is not unexpected.
However, while this has been a small annoyance, the world has surprisingly not ended. People are getting to their jobs. People are getting to school. People are getting home. As with the other downtown freeway closures of the past few years, chaos has not come as predicted. It begs the question, as fellow urban writer Aaron Renn recently asked, “Do we really need this freeway?”
What do you think?