Organizers of the Rethink 65/70 Coalition are encouraging Downtown neighbors to attend any of a series of meetings which state planners have scheduled regarding the ultimate design of what is known as the North Split – phase one of a redevelopment of the Downtown interstates.

Two of the meetings have already taken place, on March 28 at Arsenal Technical High School on the Near Eastside and March 30 at Sacred Heart Parish Hall in The Old Southside. Each meeting has a target audience, but anyone is free to attend any of the meetings. Remaining meetings are:

FIREFIGHTERS UNION HALL, 748 Mass Ave. – 7 p.m. Tuesday, April 2, for the Chatham Arch/Lockerbie Square neighborhoods.

YOUNG & LARAMORE (in the gymnasium), 407 Fulton St. – 5 p.m. Thursday, April 4, for the Interstate Business Groups/Cole-Noble neighborhood.

McGOWAN HALL (Knights of Columbus), 1305 N. Delaware St. – 7 p.m. Tuesday, April 9, for the Herron-Morton/Old Northside/St. Joseph neighborhoods.

The meetings are part of a process known as Context Sensitive Solutions. Rethink 65/70 Coalition officials stressed that this phase is separate from its battle with the Indiana Dept. of Transportation over interstate design modifications. The message from Coalition leaders to Downtown residents and other stakeholders includes the following:

We are continuing our campaign to persuade INDOT to modify its current design (Alternative 4c) so that it does not preclude the possibility of recessed highways connecting with the reconstructed North Split in the future.

However, INDOT’s North Split project is entering a new phase that we must not ignore, one that we must all engage in immediately — it is called Context Sensitive Solutions (CSS). It is extremely important that the public participate in the CSS process. There are several important things to know about this phase:

The national Institute of Transportation Engineers’ guidelines for using CSS with urban highways is VERY progressive and IF FOLLOWED has the potential to make even the new INDOT North Split significantly better than any new interstate reconstruction you’ve seen in Indiana. One huge focus of the national standards is to make sure areas around an urban interstate are designed to be walkable and to connect communities separated by the interstate.