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Controversial Modern Rockville Road project met with backlash at public hearing

Posted at 9:36 PM, Mar 08, 2023
and last updated 2023-03-08 23:04:25-05

INDIANAPOLIS — There is controversy over a road-widening project on the west side of Indianapolis.

A plan to make what INDOT calls “long-needed improvements” to U.S. 36/Rockville Road was met with mixed reaction from residents at a public hearing on Wednesday.

INDOT is proposing turning parts of Rockville Road into a six-lane street.

The project, Modern Rockville, will tackle traffic congestion, crash rates, poor drainage and lack of sidewalks on Indy’s west side.

The project will require about .207 acres of permanent new right-of-way, in addition to .366 acres of temporary right-of-way needed during construction.

"Its very frustrating to the neighbors," said Karen Farmer.

Farmer has lived off Rockville Road for forty years.

"Do you feel like this is working?" asked WRTV's Rachael Wilkerson.

"I think this is working fine," said Farmer. "If INDOT thinks safety is an issue, they are not thinking about the residents at all."

The proposal is part of INDOT's plan to reduce traffic congestion in the area.

“The number one reason we’re doing this is safety. Throughout the years going back to January 2020, we’ve been sending out questionnaires, surveys asking people what are your concerns right now with the current conditions of the roadway and they said the number one reason was number of crashes, daily congestion we see in this area every day and pedestrian safety," INDOT spokesperson Megan DeLucenay said.

According to INDOT analysis from 2016-2019, traffic in the corridor is up between 9 to 25 percent.

The intersection of Rockville Road and Girls School Road is in the top one percent for crash rates in the state.

“The proposed plan right now is going from four lanes to six, so it’ll be three on one side separated by a median and three on the other side," DeLucenay said.

An idea Nancy Hamble supports.

“We need some more lanes for the traffic and kinda spread it out a little bit," the 23-year-long resident said. “Traffic is horrific. Especially at rush hour, trying to go to work in the morning or come home and you gotta deal with the sun in your eyes and the traffic is bad.”

Hamble hopes the project will alleviate some of these concerns.

“If we get another lane and some ditches, I’ll be happy.”

For Farmer, the changes will cut into her driveway, pushing traffic closer to her home. The median will also force her family to turn right every time they leave even though they need to turn left.

"That would be day after day every time you go to the grocery store to take your kids to school, sporting event you are in and out your driveway 3-4 times a day. We are very opposed to the median down the middle," said Farmer.

While city-county councilor Jared Evans supports most of the widening project, he says the site east of High School Road should be off limits.

"It doesn't make sense to put those residents in a situation where they have no turn off. The simple question I'll ask is who wants to buy a house off a 6 lane highway? Nobody. It's gonna hurt the community as a whole and I am not ok with that. The state reps and state senators should work with INDOT and save this particular stretch," said Evans.

"I don't want to take the risk every time I drive out of my driveway that a speeding car is going to collide with me. The whole neighborhood will be impacted by this project," said Farmer.

Utility work is expected to begin Fall of 2024.

Construction is expected to begin early 2025, with a completion date in 2027.