Thursday, October 21, 2010

INDOT, City of Indianapolis and Indy Parks announce stream restoration project

Partnership includes INDOT’s first off-site stream mitigation with Indy Parks

Today, the Indiana Department of Transportation (INDOT) announced an innovative partnership with the City of Indianapolis, Indy Parks and the Indianapolis Parks Foundation to fund and construct a $1 million off-site stream restoration project. The streams run through Pleasant Run Golf Course on land owned by the City and managed by Indy Parks and are being restored to mitigate impacts from INDOT’s 465/69 Northeast project.

Included in the stream restoration project will be sections of Pleasant Run, South Creek and Spring Branch on the Pleasant Run Golf Course property. The project will restore approximately 1.2 miles of streams using a combination of stream bank grading (earth work) and the naturalization of the habitat in and near the water. “This is a first-of-its-kind off-site stream mitigation partnership for INDOT and Indy Parks and one that we consider innovative,” said Troy Woodruff, INDOT deputy commissioner of operations, at today’s announcement at Pleasant Run Golf Course. “In keeping with our mission, we are excited to restore this stream on the City of Indianapolis’ land and leave the natural habitat better than it was when this project began. INDOT’s stream mitigation on Indy Parks’ land will also allow the improvements to be more readily observed and enjoyed by the public. We think this is a win-win situation for all parties.”

Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard also discussed the project along with Stuart Lowry, Indy Parks’ director. “This project will have major positive environmental impacts for the Pleasant Run area,” said Mayor Ballard. “The partnership between Indy Parks and INDOT is one we hope to replicate for future projects.”

The idea to restore a stream located on City of Indianapolis land came from INDOT, which needed to mitigate for stream impacts associated with INDOT’s 465/69 Northeast project. The project is adding travel lanes and improving interchanges along eight miles of I-465, from just east of the U.S. 31/Meridian Street

interchange to just north of Fall Creek Road, as well as more than two miles of I-69, crossing over 82nd Street and ending just south of the 96th Street interchange.

Instead of mitigating land near the project or on other private land – which, depends on the availability of suitable land that meets the mitigation requirements, adds land acquisition costs and requires a willing seller – INDOT partnered with Indiana University Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI) professor Robert Barr of the Center for Earth and Environmental Science to come up with a plan to mitigate the impacts off-site from the project but within the same watershed. Federal requirements dictate that when conducting off-site stream mitigation, the area mitigated should be at a 2-to-1 ratio to the area affected by the project, which is how INDOT determined the 1.2 miles of stream for mitigation purposes. After INDOT and Barr developed the strategy and identified a potential off-site location, INDOT then entered into a $240,000 contract with the Indianapolis Parks Foundation to fund the cost for advisors and consultants to put together the mitigation plan.

The regrading of specific sections of the stream banks will result in a more stable stream channel, and the banks will then be replanted with native plant, shrub and tree species. Sections of the stream that will not be regraded will be “naturalized,” meaning all non-native invasive plants will be removed and replaced with native species, improving the overall habitat for wildlife.

INDOT let the contract for bid on Sept. 1, 2010, and it was awarded to Sunesis Construction Company for $760,000 on Sept. 14, making the total cost of the project $1 million. Work is anticipated to begin later this month or next month and is scheduled for completion in late April 2011.

Additionally, INDOT is working with Indy Parks on a preliminary plan to develop a wetland and stream mitigation bank. Mitigation banks are developed for future INDOT projects requiring mitigation not possible on the project site, and they have the potential to save the State of Indiana time and money on individual projects. The proposed Indy Parks bank, if approved, will be developed at various City park locations scattered throughout Marion County.

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