Major Improvements to Emerson Avenue Underway
Photo courtesy American Structurepoint
Major improvements to highly traveled Emerson Avenue from Southport Crossing (first street south of Southport Road) to Stop 11 Road are now underway. The approximately one-mile reconstruction project includes additional lanes in each direction, sidewalks on both sides, new traffic signals and a new four-lane bridge over I-65. The final one-mile phase, set to begin in the fall, will make improvements from Stop 11 to County Line Road. Together, these projects will complete a multi-year effort to improve Emerson from Beech Grove to County Line.
“The long-awaited project will benefit businesses and residents in the area who travel this corridor to stores, restaurants, healthcare facilities, companies and other locations,” observed Aspire President and CEO Christian Maslowski. “This corridor has underserved the growing southside population and commercial districts for a long while. As the area continues to see an increase in residents, businesses and commuters, this project will significantly ease transportation, improve safety and enhance the quality of place.”
Greenwood widened its portion of Emerson twenty years ago and just completed a reconstruction to repave, add landscaped medians and improve walkways, Maslowski noted. “Indianapolis has been widening Emerson and improving walkways north of Southport Road during this time. The stretch of road between Southport Crossing and County Line, the final portion of this critical corridor to be addressed, has been highly anticipated.”
Maslowski advised that member investors located within this corridor will need to manage the inconvenience of the constriction by communicating with their employees and clients about the added drive times and extra precautions needed. “As this project is expected to conclude by 2024, business leaders should embrace the short-term inconvenience for the long-term gain from the improvements. At last, this important residential, business and healthcare corridor will adequately support the traffic load.”
Aspire, which serves Johnson County as well as South Indy, advocated with Indianapolis officials to advance the timetable for the project after it had been identified as one to be completed, Maslowski said. “Aspire has long-backed funding for local roads and streets, and we support providing flexibility to local governments in the decision-making issues that come with local infrastructure (including financing options, design and construction).” He added that strengthening the infrastructure and extending it to strategic sites along commercial connectivity nodes is one of the key goals of Aspire’s five-year Economic Development Strategic Plan.
“Infrastructure to support growing, modern cities encompasses much more than roads and bridges. But even in 2022, infrastructure still begins there, Maslowski commented. “This project is utilizing a mix of funds, particularly federal dollars. It is important that local governments have the funding and tools necessary to build the infrastructure that best suits the needs of their communities.”
The Emerson improvements are needed because of existing and predicted traffic volumes and corresponding congestion resulting in a low level of service, according to the Indianapolis Dept. of Public Works (DPW) Project Information Packet which gives this portion of Emerson an “F.” Additionally, there is reduced pedestrian access along this portion of Emerson, the report states, with poor accessibility to services such as IndyGo bus stops.
DPW Chief Communications Officer Ben Easley explained that the first project, Southport Crossing to Stop 11, formally entered the construction phase in late 2021. The construction cost is about $6.2 million and it is expected to run through Summer 2023. Construction of this project will also include replacement of the bridge over I-65. Activity began with right-of-way clearing, followed by utility relocation. Work on the bridge began in mid-February. Utility relocation for the remainder of the project is currently underway. Advance-warning signage for road closures will go up when utility relocation is complete.”
Easley added that the second project, Stop 11 to County Line, comes with an estimated price tag of approximately $11 million for construction. “The project is expected to go to bid this summer for construction between Fall 2022 to Fall 2023. This project will also include a new bridge over Pleasant Run Creek near the intersection of Todd Road.”
“An open house detailing both projects was held in late 2019, providing an opportunity for business owners and residents to offer feedback on the design. The public provided comments as part of the design process, leading to finalization of plans for each project,” Easley noted.
Businesses and residents having addresses within the project limits will receive a postcard detailing information about the activity including expected work, traffic impact and staff contact information for questions related to construction, Easley said.
“While overlapping construction timelines may be a headache in the short-term,” Easley concluded, “the goals for the projects overall — and for the benefit of impacted businesses — include greater safety for all road users, both motorists and pedestrians, as traffic circulation and capacity are increased.”
With general questions on either project, businesses and residents can contact: DPWEngineering@indy.gov.
More information on this project — including plans and an information packet — is available here: Street Improvements > Current Projects.