Monday, July 16, 2012

Riverplace and 96th and Allisonville

What a lot of people think is Fishers' Biggest Flop is the entire mess at 96th and Allisonville.  But it takes a bit of history to explain.

For many years, a developer, Centre Properties, has been trying to get permission from the Indiana Department of Natural Resources to fill in part of the White River flood plan just north of the 96th Street bridge.  Residents north and south of 96th along the river opposed the permit, fearing increased flooding.  For years, DNR turned down the permit, so the development went no where. 

Suddenly, about 2007, the DNR reverses itself and approves the permit.  If memory serves, this was not long after former Fishers Town Council member Charlie White (yes, THAT Charlie White) went to work for DNR.  Now, I am not saying that Charlie had anything to do with that, but it seems a large coincidence.

So then, the developer asks for Town Council approval for its grandiose and supposed $500 million dollar mixed-use project with condos, stores, and commercial uses.  And the Town Council approves it, despite near-total opposition by residents and testimony by both Fishers and Indy transportation people that the development would make an already horrible intersection even worse.  Councilman David George, a civil engineer, voted against it.  A news article about the approval is here.

Well, apparently the staff in Fishers was worried enough about massive traffic jams that they had to come up with something.  And they did.  Its called a "Michigan Left".  What that means, astonishingly enough, is that YOU CAN'T TURN LEFT AT THIS INTERSECTION any more.  What you do is turn RIGHT, then make a U-Turn, AGAINST ONCOMING TRAFFIC (maybe with a light), and then go right, the direction you wanted to go anyway.

I am no traffic engineer, but this seems to defy common sense, especially at rush hour.  Traffic wanting to go left against rush hour traffic will have to make a right turn, change 3 lanes immediately, then U-turn against rush hour traffic.  Without a light, impossible.  WITH a light, almost impossible.  Have you seen how FAR rush hour traffic backs up there?  And with thousands of more cars with a half-billion dollar development, WHERE DO THEY ALL GO??? 

Fortunately, Riverplace seems a bust, so far.  It was to have opened years ago, and nothing has been done there.  It is a huge vacant lot overrun with weeds.  So it is not adding to the massive traffic headaches at 96th and Allisonville.

Worse, Fishers is carrying the whole load financially for this "improvement".  Indy is paying nada.  They gave approval for their side of the county line on condition that they not have to pay anything.  The estimated costs are over $8.6 million.  A diagram and more info on this nightmare on the Town's website is here.

And who wants to live, work and shop next to TWO sewer plants and the smelly White River anyway?

This is not only the Town Council's fault.  The developer has a lot sunk in this, foolishly.  But we have now sunk millions of taxpayer dollars into making a bad situation worse.

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