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Changes in store for Michigan Street

October 11, 2016

A cross-section rendering of future Michigan Street traffic.

This rendering illustrates how Michigan Street could appear in the near future, looking east from University Boulevard toward Blackford Street, with a median between eastbound and westbound traffic.

Phase II of the evolution of the IUPUI campus and its two major east-west thoroughfares is scheduled to commence at the beginning of November, when Calumet Civil Contractors begins the conversion of Michigan Street to two-way traffic.

Michigan Street conversion

The project, expected to be completed before December 2017, follows the same process as was used for the New York Street conversion, which was completed at the end of 2015.

Calumet Civil Contractors' bid for the project was approved Sept. 28. The Indianapolis Department of Public Works will oversee the work.

By the time the new project is finished, Michigan Street will feature two lanes each of eastbound and westbound traffic, plus a lane for eastbound bus routes. The plans for the project are in keeping with the IUPUI master plan and will provide:

  • Improved vehicle and pedestrian safety.
  • Smoother traffic flow through campus.
  • Increased travel options for drivers, transit riders and cyclists.
  • An enhanced sense of place on campus.

The project is part of a long-range partnership linking the campus and the city of Indianapolis. It included the street conversions, improvements to the IU Natatorium that were completed in time for the 2016 U.S. Olympic Diving Trials, and efforts to enhance the quality of life and provide a stronger financial future for residents living in neighborhoods just west of the campus.

Project offers challenges

Campus officials expect the Michigan Street work to offer several challenges.

"This project is more involved than New York Street," said Emily Wren, associate vice chancellor for facilities. "There is more pedestrian traffic crossing Michigan Street on a regular basis than on New York Street, and we have to account for construction at the School of Dentistry and the traffic that comes from 700 new beds in North Hall."

To create the bus lane and space for the raised and landscaped medians that will be added to Michigan Street, just as medians were incorporated into New York Street, the project will involve taking space from outside the current roadbed. That means trees will have to be moved or eliminated, Wren said during a recent project information session.

"We are saving every tree possible -- those that are healthy and can survive a move," she said. "At the end of the day, we will have a net increase in the number of trees on campus."

Work expected to move west to east

During the first phase of the Michigan Street project, lanes on the south side of the street will be closed to traffic. Work will commence, in general, on the west end of Michigan closest to Porto Alegre and move east.

The second phase will involve improvements to the intersection of Michigan and West streets, and the third phase will be work on lanes on the north side of Michigan Street.

At least two lanes will be open on Michigan Street throughout the construction, except for a five-day window late in the project for work on the medians being installed.

As with New York Street, a dedicated bicycle lane will be built beside Michigan Street; that path will run beside the sidewalks that will be established along the street.

Intersections are expected to remain open to campus traffic throughout the project, except for temporary interruptions.

To keep up with the project and its impact on traffic flow, parking and safety, keep up with Inside IUPUI and with information posted on the Parking Services website.

A median altered the look of New York Street.

When the New York Street project was completed, a median down the middle of traffic changed the look and feel of the street. Michigan Street work should produce similar results. | LIZ KAYE / IU COMMUNICATIONS

Frequently Asked Questions

1.     Why is Michigan Street being converted into a two-way street?

The goal of this two-way conversion project is to improve safety and community access for commuters, transit riders, pedestrians and cyclists.

2.     When was this road construction project announced?

The New York Street/Michigan Street two-way conversation project was announced in 2014.

3.     Who is paying for the project?

The Michigan Street two-way conversion construction will be paid for by the city of Indianapolis' downtown tax increment financing fund, or TIF. The funding will also cover the cost of the bus-only lane that will connect to IndyGo's Red Line plan.

4.     Who is managing the project?

The Indianapolis Department of Public Works supervises and manages all public works construction projects.

5.     When will the construction project begin and end?

Plans to convert Michigan Street into a two-way street on the IUPUI campus will begin in November and will continued until November 2017. This will be the final phase of the two-way conversion project.

6.     What are the details of Phase II - Michigan Street conversion?

The DPW will convert the existing one-way Michigan Street through campus to a two-way street from West Street to White River Parkway. The project will include a two-way, mostly off-street bicycle lane and improvements to the Michigan Street/West Street intersection. This project also will include:

  • A bus-only eastbound lane on Michigan Street across West Street to Indiana Avenue.
  • Improvements to West Street from New York Street to Michigan Street, including a new signal at Vermont Street.

7.     Will Michigan Street be closed during Phase II?

No. A minimum of two westbound lanes will be provided for travel on Michigan Street during construction.

8.     How will the conversion of Michigan Street into a two-way street improve safety?

  • The bus-only lane (which can cut down journey times, relieve traffic congestion and significantly assist in the reduction of air pollution)
  • Narrowed traffic lanes
  • Landscaped, raised medians
  • High-Intensity Activate Crosswalk, or HAWK, signals
  • Protected bike lanes

9.     Will any work be performed around campus as a result of Phase II construction?

University Boulevard will be resurfaced and restriped from Michigan Street to North Street to allow for southbound left turn movement onto eastbound Michigan Street. Curb ramps on White River Parkway will be upgraded to meet current Americans with Disabilities Act standards. Blackford Street from Michigan Street to New York Street will be resurfaced, restriped and partially widened to allow for bidirectional traffic following construction completion. Pavement markings on the western leg of the intersection of New York and Blackford streets will be altered to allow for a left-turn lane onto northbound Blackford Street.

10.  How will the road construction impact traffic and pedestrian flow?

Traffic and pedestrian patterns may be reconfigured along Michigan, West and Blackford streets, so please allow extra time for travel, parking and walking.

11.  Will there be any events or existing construction projects on campus that will impact this road-construction project?

The most significant project is the construction of a new wing on the School of Dentistry complex on the south side of Michigan Street.

12.  Will the Michigan Street conversion project include any green elements?

Yes, there will be LED traffic signals.

The School of Dentistry will be affected.

The project will affect the School of Dentistry, right, and its construction project with several trees and portions of land in front of the school giving way to street changes. | LIZ KAYE / IU COMMUNICATIONS

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