Greenwood chips in $64,000 for Red Line transit study

Greenwood is paying to help design a mass transit bus line that would quickly zip riders to downtown Indianapolis and farther north.

The city is required to chip in only about $64,000 toward a $3.1 million design bill, city engineer and director of community development services Mark Richards said.

That money is only to design the project. If the multimillion-dollar transit project were built, taxpayers would have to vote on whether to approve a new income tax to fund part of the construction cost, Richards said. Under the current central Indiana mass transit plans, the city wouldn’t directly provide more tax dollars for construction, although residents might, Richards said.

If approved, construction is likely at least five years away, he said.

The Indianapolis Metropolitan Planning Organization is launching a multiyear project to study and design a rapid transit bus line from Greenwood to Westfield. The service, which is being called the red line, would have a limited number of stops to ferry riders quickly from the suburbs to downtown Indianapolis.

In the initial plans, Greenwood would have three stops along Madison Avenue — one at the Greenwood Park Mall, one near Greenwood City Center at Main Street and one near Smith Valley Road and U.S. 31.

The study is being funded in part by a $2 million federal grant. The four communities served by the line — Greenwood, Indianapolis, Carmel and Westfield — have agreed to pay for the other $1.1 million needed. Since Greenwood has the smallest section of the line by far, the city’s share is $64,366, Richards said.

The city redevelopment commission approved using tax-increment financing district funds to pay for Greenwood’s portion of the cost. That money is collected from businesses and set aside for infrastructure or economic development projects.

Buses could help city residents get to jobs around central Indiana, bring shoppers to the mall or downtown Greenwood and help spur redevelopment in the rundown area on Madison Avenue near the mall, Mayor Mark Myers has said.