Street Closures Promote Social Distancing While Dining Outdoors

IMM photo

by Thomas P. Healy

Updated May 26 –Using his authority to temporarily close roads in an emergency, Indianapolis Department of Public Works Director Dan Parker issued an executive order [PDF] May 19 closing portions of five streets in dense commercial locations. Downtown, the closures are:

  • Massachusetts Avenue, between College Avenue and the intersection of New York and Delaware streets
  • Georgia Street between Pennsylvania and Illinois streets
  • Illinois Street from Georgia to Market streets
  • Monument Circle southern quadrant

In Midtown, Broad Ripple Avenue will be closed between College Avenue and the Monon Trail. Both Winthrop Avenue and Guilford Avenue traffic can continue north and south across Broad Ripple Avenue, but no turns will be permitted.

DPW will erect signage directing motorists to detour around the Broad Ripple Avenue closure using College Ave., Kessler Blvd., and Keystone Ave.

The move is part of the City’s efforts to help restaurants reopen and comply with the Marion County Health Department’s requirement that patrons must be served outside. To help restaurants that either lack outdoor seating or wish to expand existing options, the City has established a temporary outdoor dining permit portal. Restaurants may apply for no-cost permits to place additional seating outdoors—including in the public right-of-way where appropriate.

Parker said DPW received many calls during the stay-at-home order asking to close streets. “We did not do that because we wanted to encourage folks to stay home,” he said.

With restrictions easing and restaurants allowed to serve patrons outdoors beginning Friday, May 22, Parker said the City wants to create safe pedestrian corridors to help people adhere to social distancing guidelines.

Parker said the primary reason to use Broad Ripple Avenue is its width. “The right-of-way is the largest and when it is shut down, it provides the largest corridor for pedestrians to walk safely,” he said.

The corridor will be 24 feet wide down the center of the street. “Under the technical definition, the street is closed to traffic but not closed to emergency vehicles,” Parker said. “We kept the 24 feet in the middle of the street so that an emergency vehicle can navigate it,” he added.

DPW street sweepers and solid waste management vehicles will also have morning access to the street, and the City is requesting that commercial deliveries occur prior to 11 a.m., when pedestrian traffic is low.

Three banks on the north side of Broad Ripple Avenue with drive-through access on Westfield Boulevard will receive accommodations. “We’ll place Jersey barriers in one lane to allow drive-through customers to exit west out to College Avenue,” he said, referring to modular barricades. The barriers will be placed to block eastbound travel.

Parker said DPW is working with ParkIndy on the closure because 60 parking meters will be affected. DPW is also working with IndyGo on a detour for Route 18’s Broad Ripple Avenue section.

DPW staff will begin deploying street barricades on Wednesday, May 20. The order remains in effect, “until 11:59 p.m. on July 4, 2020, unless otherwise modified in writing by the Director of DPW.”

On May 21, IMPD North District commander Michael Wolley issued the following statement to BRVA:

I am sure you have begun to receive questions about the street closings schedule to impact Broad Ripple. Please know we are working on a safety plan to monitor the closures’ successes and challenges from a public safety standpoint. Our Beat Officers have been alerted about the closures and will maintain a presence in the area focused on the village’s safety. If you have concerns, please feel free to pass them my way. This is all new, so we are planning for a continuous evaluation of how we can best keep Broad Ripple a safe place to live, work, and play. Thank you for your continued support!

The City has issued a FAQ [PDF] document to outline procedures and guidelines. As of May 26, the following Broad Ripple establishments have been granted temporary permits:

  • Condado Tacos, 838 Broad Ripple Avenue
  • Union Jack Pub, 924 Broad Ripple Ave
  • Kilroy’s, 831 Broad Ripple Ave.

Permit applications for the following Broad Ripple establishments are under review:

  • Brick House Dueling Pianos, 6235 N. Guilford Ave.
  • BRICS (Broad Ripple Ice Cream Store), 901 E. 64th Street
  • Broad Ripple Tavern, 745 Broad Ripple Ave.
  • Brothers Bar & Grill, 910 Broad Ripple Ave.
  • Garden Table, 908 E. Westfield Blvd.
  • The Egyptian Cafe, 6262 Carrollton Ave.

One Midtown applicant is under review: Keystone Sports Review 5602 N. Keystone Ave. A temporary permit has been issued to Moe and Johnny’s, 5380 N. College Ave.

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