Writer & Photographer / Stephanie Duncan
If you’ve had the chance to make it to Broad Ripple Avenue recently, you might have noticed barriers closing off a portion of the street between College Avenue and the Monon Trail. On May 19, Mayor Joe Hogsett announced new measures to help local shops and restaurants, and increase the safety of patrons. The city of Indianapolis has closed down part of Broad Ripple Avenue to give everyone a little more wiggle room. The street closures create more walkable space for residents and shoppers, while also giving retail shops and restaurants space along the sidewalks and parking spots.
According to broadrippleindy.org, eastbound traffic traveling around the Broad Ripple Avenue closure has been redirected southbound on College Avenue, then eastbound on Kessler Boulevard East Drive, northbound on Keystone Avenue, and westbound on Broad Ripple Avenue before rejoining the route. Westbound traffic on Broad Ripple Avenue has been redirected east to Keystone Avenue, then southbound on Keystone Avenue, westbound on Kessler Boulevard East Drive, and northbound on College Avenue before rejoining the route. For added accessibility, Guilford and Winthrop avenues are still open to vehicular traffic for crossing the avenue, and cars are still able to exit the banks on the west end and turn north onto College Avenue.
While these measures allow individuals to walk around in the street while keeping a safe social distance, they also allow city officials the opportunity to explore future street closures for potential festivals and special events. According to City Councilor Colleen Fanning, a tentative plan is in place to turn Broad Ripple Avenue into a replica of Georgia Street downtown. Georgia Street was redesigned in 2012 with the capability to be transformed into a three-block event space for city-wide festivals, art shows, concerts and conventions.
Retail employees in Broad Ripple seem largely optimistic about the street closure.
“After the first day I was like, ‘This is fun – what if it was always like this?’”, says Sammy Pfaff, a Pitaya employee.
Fanning says Broad Ripple Avenue is overdue for infrastructure improvement. There are plans for updating drainage and widening sidewalks beginning in early 2021. Improvements to the avenue will make it easier to host outdoor events such as concerts and festivals.
Broad Ripple Avenue closures are expected to last through the July 4th weekend, in conjunction with the city’s summer reopening plan and Marion County Public Health Department orders. As businesses reopen, social distancing is still encouraged to ensure public safety.
If you want to know more about what’s going on in Broad Ripple, visit broadrippleindy.org for up-to-date information about future events and street closures. If you’re a local restaurant leader and would like more information about outdoor seating permits, check out indy.gov/activity/temporary-outdoor-seating.