Indianapolis City-County Council discusses rapid transit referendum

INDIANAPOLIS -- The wheels are starting to turn on a referendum for rapid transit in Indianapolis.

The city's metropolitan economic development committee was scheduled to meet Monday night to discuss whether to ask voters for funding on the November ballot.

The federal government is already directing $75 million to the construction of the Red Line. The first 13-mile stretch will run from 66th Street down to the University of Indianapolis campus along College Avenue.

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City-county councilors are discussing whether to ask voters if they'd be willing to pay more to keep the buses running. A proposed quarter-percent increase in county income tax would, on average, cost you about $10 more per month.

Councilor Jeff Miller says the money would mean more routes and more buses.

"Part of the problem with a bus route that comes infrequently – every hour, let's say – is you miss the one and you're out of luck for an hour," Miller said. "Or it doesn't go far enough one direction, or far enough out."

But the plan has met stiff opposition from some in the neighborhoods where it would run.

Steve O'Neil is part of the organization "College Avenue Indy." He says the Rapid Transit Line would bring traffic down to one lane in either direction on College Avenue and Meridian Street.

"If anyone has driven these roads in rush hour, there's going to be a significant backup of traffic," he said. "There's going to be parking that's going to be taken away from small businesses and residences up and down College Avenue."

O'Neil says the line could be a safety hazard. Miller argues it's necessary for growth.

"If we don't find a way to become a city where it's possible to have no car and still get around and do everything you need to do, then we're always going to be behind," Miller said.

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