Below is a link to an article in the current issue of the Urban Times about an upcoming City project on 16th Street. It appears that the project will mainly consist of resurfacing the street, with some sidewalk and curb repair/replacement. The exciting part is the ability of a group of concerned citizens being successful in convincing the City to make some substantive changes to their plans to actually improve the street from a pedestrian's standpoint, most notably by providing curb extensions at the intersection of 16th & Delaware to reduce the crosswalk distance from five lanes to three lanes. Hopefully, this will also slow the speed of traffic and further increase safety for both drivers and pedestrians at this off-set intersection.
Ironic was the mention that the citizens' group was unsuccessful in convincing the city to reconstruct the sidewalk on the south side of 16th, west of Meridian (in front of Walgreen's parking lot), because the sidewalk there was too recently constructed to merit reconstruction. The citizens' group asked that the sidewalk be rebuilt away from the curb with a tree lawn between the street and sidewalk. One might ask why the City didn't build the sidewalk that way when it was previously reconstructed. Did we just realize that sidewalks built right next to a lane of moving cars are not inviting to pedestrians? The sidewalk probably could've been rebuilt as part of the Walgreen's redevelopment at this corner in 2007. Perhaps the City decided that it was more important to have some landscaping between the sidewalk and Walgreen's parking lot, which (according to the City's website: http://imaps.indygov.org/prod/GeneralViewer/viewer.htm ) appears to be built within a foot or so of the 16th Street right-of-way line, rather than providing a ten-foot strip of landscaping as typically required by the zoning ordinance.
Across Meridian Street, the construction of the new CVS did include reconstruction of the 16th Street sidewalk at the right-of-way line to give pedestrians a slight buffer from traffic. Unfortunately, the sidewalk along Meridian Street still hugs the curb, requiring pedestrians to walk within a misstep of traffic. While it doesn't appear that there is additional unused right-of-way on Meridian Street, there is a strip of landscaping between the CVS building and the sidewalk. Why not reverse the sidewalk and landscaping to provide some buffer between pedestrians and traffic?
Wouldn't it be refreshing to have the City actually propose improvements that would improve the pedestrian environment instead of it only happening as a result of active and informed citizens catching them in time to win some changes to the plans? Take a look at the newly rebuilt sidewalk on Dr. MLK Jr. St, between 16th and 21st Streets. Right next to moving traffic and worse yet, there are utility poles right in the middle of the sidewalk, such that there isn't even space to get a wheelchair around the poles without going off the sidewalk. Does not the Americans with Disabilities Act apply to such projects?