Shelby Street closure leads to increased traffic, decreased safety for nearby neigbhorhood

INDIANAPOLIS -- A closure is underway on Shelby Street for Southern Avenue to Troy Avenue in the downtown area, as part of Citizen Energy Group’s DigIndy Project, and with Tuesday’s approval of the Red Line Project, that will soon be added into the mix.

“We’ve tried to match our construction schedule to the Red Line Project, so we’re not coming in here and disrupting Shelby Street twice,” said Dan Considine, a spokesperson for CEG, talking about the DigIndy Project that is underway right now.

That is good news, because as some residents in the nearby Garfield Park neighborhood have learned, the closure is causing disruption -- especially from a traffic standpoint.

Rachel Valastek has lived on Manker Street for eight years with her family, including four school-aged children. She said people are ignoring the designated detour provided by CEG and making their own detour -- right through her neighborhood.

“There has been an extremely large amount of traffic, way more than this street can handle, for sure,” Valastek said.

What’s more is that the cars cutting through aren’t following the traffic laws.

“The cars that are coming through are just flying down the street. The speed limit is supposed to be 30, but most people are going 40 or even 50,” said Valastek.

Valastek said this is a sharp contrast to days of the past.

"Even in rush hour it was pretty quiet, and that's one of the reasons we purchased a home in this neighborhood,” Valastek said.

Valastak said the increase of traffic, paired with the high speeds, has left her with no choice but to restrict her children from one of their favorite warm weather activities.

“They cant really play outside anymore, not in the front, anyway,” Valastek said. “I’m afraid that someone who’s speeding by could slam into one of the cars, or end up on the sidewalk.”

She said her kids aren’t very happy.

“They are frustrated that they can’t come out front. And my youngest ones are even scared to come out front," Valastek said. "They’re not comfortable coming outside and drawing on the sidewalk with their chalk.

She said the community has taken measures to solve this problem, and law enforcement has even taken their hand at it, to no major avail.

“I’ve contacted every person I can think of with the city. And our community leaders are really active, and they’ve done as much as they can. The local police have been out here, patrolling. And ticketing cars that are rolling through the stop sign down here,” said Valastek.

She continued, “It’s a little bit better than a week ago, but even that is not deterring people from using this as a detour and speeding.”

Valastek said her family is absolutely thrilled about the projects behind the closure of Shelby Street.  

“We are really excited about what the Red Line is going to mean for our community. And we're excited that Citizen's Energy is finally updating the system, we've been asking for that for years,” Valastek explained.

However, the need for commuters to follow the marked detour is critical.

“We want all of our kids to be safe," Valastek said. "And not only our kids, but our pets. A lot of people have already lost pets because of the heavy traffic.”

The closure of Shelby Street from Southern Avenue to Troy Avenue will continue through the end of October.

If you head through the area as part of your commute and do not live in the nearby neighborhood, you need to follow the detour.

Northbound drivers are asked to turn left onto Troy Avenue, right onto Madison Avenue, right onto Southern Avenue, and then left to return to northbound Shelby Street.

Southbound drivers are asked to turn right onto Southern Avenue, left onto Madison Avenue, left onto Troy Avenue, and then right to return to southbound Shelby Street.

To learn about the DigIndy Project that is underway, click here.

To learn about the IndyGo Red Line Project, follow this link.

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