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Senate bill could cancel IndyGo's Purple, Blue lines, other road improvements

Lawrence mayor supports Purple Line
Posted at 12:34 AM, Mar 12, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-12 21:52:56-05

INDIANAPOLIS — "38th Street is so bad. It's so bumpy. Like, we really need this IndyGo passage to go underway," Ashley Gurvitz said.

Indianapolis resident Ashley Gurvitz makes it clear, East 38th Street is in serious need of repair and understands the plans to rebuild it may not come to life if Senate Bill 141 becomes a law.

The legislation proposed by Senator Aaron Freeman would change the way IndyGo's funding is counted. Now, the Federal Transit Administration has warned IndyGo that federal funding for the Purple and Blue Rapid Transit Bus Lines and the street remodeling that comes with the projects could all go away.

"I really hope that before any legislation moves occur there's a full understanding of the direct impact this legislation will have," Gurvitz said.

Construction on the Purple Line is set to begin this year, eventually creating a 15-mile rapid transit connection between downtown Indianapolis and Lawrence in the northeast corner of Marion County.

"I can't find, I really can't find a downside right now for us," Lawrence Mayor Steve Collier said.

Collier says the Purple Line would come just at the right time, with a number of new developments and growth coming to the area. He said dedicated bus lanes aren't a concern in his part of the county.

"The Purple Line will come up Post Road. Post Road already is a very wide road anyway. So, it's got plenty of room for the buses and the stops and so on," Collier said.

Collier said he spoke with Senator Freeman just this week and has made it clear Lawrence stands to benefit from the Purple Line.

"The same thing I told Aaron Freeman yesterday. I said keep your hands off the Purple Line and he agrees with that," Collier said.

Senator Freeman has publicly said he's not against the Purple Line. His focus is on the Blue Line which would take up a lane of traffic on Washington Street, which runs through his district. However, Senate Bill 141 would impact both the Blue and Purple Lines.

WRTV asked Senator Freeman if he was willing to offer compromises to ensure the Purple Line, which Freeman said he's not concerned about, can be built without interruption. Freeman responded saying, "I’ve made it clear to IndyGo, their public relations consultant and their Lobbyist my issue is dedicated lanes on Washington Street and everything else is negotiable for me."

In response to Senator Freeman, IndyGo sent an official statement saying:

IndyGo’s outreach for the Marion County Transit Plan was one of the most robust outreach efforts in Central Indiana. We coordinated with the community as well as elected officials on multiple occasions through the design and planning process, conducting more than 125 meetings specific to the Blue Line that included dedicated lanes on Washington Street. Our grant is for a fixed guideway and that requires 50% or more of dedicated lanes to receive funding from the FTA. The FTA has made it clear that if the bill passes as written with the 10% penalty, funding for both the Purple and the Blue Lines is at risk. That is nearly $180 million dollars-worth of infrastructure improvements including 20 miles of sidewalks, approximately 41 lane miles of street resurfacing, 5.2 miles of multi-use pathways, and over 900 new curb ramps being held hostage by SB 141. This does not feel like a negotiation.