Mar 1, 2024 - News

Statehouse compromise saves Blue Line

Illustration of the Indiana state flag and the Indianapolis city flag with "vs" in between them.

Illustration: Lindsey Bailey/Axios

The Blue Line lives.

  • Indiana House Republicans killed the bill that threatened Indianapolis' latest mass transit project after striking a deal with IndyGo and city officials to allow the project to move forward while addressing concerns about its impact on traffic.

Why it matters: The Blue Line is the third of IndyGo's planned bus rapid transit routes, aimed at providing more efficient public transportation across the city.

  • Those opposed to the legislation said it would have killed the project, wasting the $14 million that has already been spent designing the route and throwing away $150 million in federal grants and infrastructure improvements along Washington Street.

Catch up quick: The contentious and, at times, emotional fight over the Blue Line centered on the route's use of dedicated traffic lanes, which proponents say are necessary to achieve the "rapid" part of bus rapid transit but opponents say would unnecessarily cause congestion for other vehicles.

  • Sen. Aaron Freeman (R-Indianapolis) continued his yearslong fight to end the use of dedicated lanes by proposing a one-year moratorium on their use.

Behind the scenes: On Thursday, House Speaker Todd Huston (R-Fishers) said a deal was struck the night before to preserve two lanes of traffic in both directions along much of Washington Street.

  • He said they negotiated down to "a few pinch spots" where there will be a single traffic lane.

Reality check: No one is saying where those spots are, how much the original dedicated lane design will change, what those changes will cost or if the project will be delayed.

What they are saying: "Thank you to Speaker Huston and the General Assembly for continuing the conversation about the Blue Line throughout this legislative process," IndyGo said in a statement. "And thank you to the citizens of Indianapolis who worked so hard to support IndyGo and the Blue Line project."

  • Freeman called it "a compromise all parties can live with."
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