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Irvington businesses now back Blue Line, oppose Sen. Freeman's bill

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Posted at 6:45 PM, Jan 22, 2024
and last updated 2024-01-29 22:02:34-05

Many business owners in Irvington are changing their minds about a bus line project that has generated controversy.

That includes Jockamo's Pizza, Black Sheep, Irvington Wellness Center, Irvington Picture Frame Company and more.

They are now in support of Indy-Go's plan when just a few days ago they were opposed to it.

Background:

Traffic down W. Street is never ending according Irvington businesses.

There are bus stops along the way for people needing public transit, but those bus riders share lanes with regular traffic.

Indy-Go wants to change that through it's Blue Line project.

The project would connect Cumberland west to the airport along dedicated bus lanes. There would also be enhanced bus stops.

Senator Aaron Freeman filed a bill that would prevent the project from happening.

If passed, Indy-go said it will lose millions of dollars in federal funding for infrastructure upgrades.

It would also mean the loss of more than $14 million already spent.

"Mass transportation is a good thing. Moving all people all over the city is a positive thing as a city as a whole which then makes it good for the neighborhoods," said Dave Cohn.

Dave Cohn owns Chicago Beef & Dog and World of Vapor.

Both businesses could be impacted by the blue line upgrades.

"They will put the bus stop right over here in front of school 57 which due to tragedies that have happened in the neighborhood I think is a good thing. It will slow people down in front of the school. You will be unable to turn from downtown into my parking lot. That will sting. You'll have to go up a block maybe two to do a u turn to come back and park in my parking lot. My idea is I work harder to make you do that. I believe if my food is good enough you will do that. That's where I'm at," said Cohn.

While Cohn welcomes the changes other businesses like Jockamo Pizza, Black Sheep and others publicly opposed.

Instead, they initially supported Senator Freeman's ban bill and signed a petition.

Now, they've changed their minds.

"Once I took the time to learn about it, it was a no brainer for me. When I was asked to sign that letter, I really wasn't involved," said Deb Kent.

President of Gallery of Homes, Deb Kent, said at first, she didn't fully understand the bill.

Now, she wants to make the area safer.

"People are crashing on Washington all the time. Unfortunately, a child was killed and as I said in my letter one death is too many. If that's the only reason to support it is to slow down traffic, then that's fantastic," said Kent. "You also pass by someone waiting at a bus stop and then when you come back he's still there. I hate that. If this new system means buses are going to come every 15 minutes and people are on time for work that's fantastic."

Some businesses told WRTV their customer base was being impacted and didn't want to go on camera.

STATEMENT FROM THE OWNERS OF JOCKAMO UPPER CRUST PIZZA

"We treasure the commitment and loyalty our neighbors have shown us through our 16 years in Irvington, and value being partners with them to make our community, and our city, a great place to live. The passion our neighbors have for Irvington makes us work to be a better restaurant, and a better neighbor.

Over the past few days, we have listened to many voices who believe Irvington, and Indianapolis, would be a better place with the Blue Line project as currently imagined. While we are among those who have reservations about some details of the project, we support a strong public transportation network for our neighborhood and our city.

As a result, we have decided to withdraw our support for Indiana SB 52."

Cohn said regardless of what happens, Irvington businesses are here for you.

"Shop Irvington. All businesses in Irvington and just because you don't agree with someone doesn't mean you should cancel someone. We all have a right to an opinion," he said.

Statement from State Sen. Aaron Freeman
State Sen. Aaron Freeman (R-Indianapolis) made the following statement today in response to Irvington businesses revoking their support for Senate Bill 52:

"I understand that an individual or business needs to do what is in their best interest, even if that means opposing a one-year prohibition on dedicated lanes.

"The goal is not to eliminate IndyGo, the Blue Line or take away buses from those who utilize public transit. In my opinion, eliminating 60% of the lanes of travel on Washington Street - from Hancock County to Hendricks County - in favor of buses only is not in the best interest of anyone.

"I stand steadfast in my decision to oppose the implementation and construction of dedicated lanes and I will continue to push for common-sense solutions to this issue."

IndyGo Statement Regarding Irvington Businesses’ Switch to Oppose Senate Bill 52

"IndyGo is encouraged to see the increased level of collaboration and education taking place in Irvington surrounding dedicated bus lanes and their critical importance to the Blue Line when it comes to safety and infrastructure.  We appreciate this ongoing dialogue and will continue to make it a priority in our community outreach and engagement efforts.  For businesses looking to better understand access points during construction along with ways to thrive during closures, we encourage them to sign up for a 1-on-1 Blue Line Business Meeting."