Building Pathways for Growth
Writer / Suzanne Huntzinger
Photos provided by Madison County Council of Governments
It’s a sleepy, little town, not much traffic, not much population, not many restaurants or shops. That’s what people used to say about Fishers and McCordsville. Some are still saying it about Fortville. But that’s about to change, and plans are in the works to make that happen.
Natives of our northeast corner of Indy have long been familiar with the explosive growth that happened near I-69 around the 96th street and 116th street interchanges. Growth skyrocketed quickly, traffic became congested and soon residents were in a constant logjam. City planners have been racing to alleviate the congestion ever since with new roundabouts and the new 106th street exit. In short, the population grew too fast for the roads and infrastructure to catch up.
Now as we near a new decade, good old urban sprawl is extending its reach again. Urban planners are preparing to usher in this new era of growth, this time, in the Fortville area.
What once seemed so far away for many is now quickly becoming a hot spot for many locals. With new hangouts in Fortville like Taxman Brewing, FoxGardin, Indulge Ice Cream Parlor and Café, Java Junction, Lincoln Square Pancake House and Sunrise Bakery, the Fortville town square is hopping. By now, you’d be hard pressed to find anyone who doesn’t know of Elite Beverages, aka the big pink elephant, ushering drivers along highway 67 and into Fortville.
So, city planners analyzed population projections for the next 15 to 20 years. What they found was surprising.
“The population in Fortville is expected to rise by at least 50 percent by the year 2040,” says Adam Zaklikowsi, Planning Administrator for the Town of Fortville. That puts the town on track for growth that’s two to three times the national average. It seems inevitable that Fortville will quickly become part of the greater metropolitan Indianapolis area.
Adding urgency to the need for implementing a plan of action was the inquiries by developers. Each week, the town of Fortville fielded calls by developers asking about future plans. That’s when the town of Fortville along with the Madison County Council of Governments formed the seven member Connect Fortville committee.
“We want to learn from the massive population growth in Fishers and prevent the negative community impacts that come with it in Fortville,” says Senior Transportation Planner, Ryan Phelps. “We want to get ahead of it and manage it.”
The Connect Fortville plan is a proposed long-range thoroughfare plan that provides for the creation, expansion and improvement of the transportation network, including roads, as well as bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure.
The town of Fortville is expecting development of neighborhoods, restaurants, shopping centers, schools and more. Architecture, engineering, planning and development giant American Structurepoint is already working with the town to make plans for the development of the area beyond Fortville’s town square.
Although that development is at the heart of Fortville’s growth, Connect Fortville’s role focuses strictly on proposing a transportation plan. To create that plan, the committee held workshops soliciting input. Input came not only from the committee but from residents and businesses. For one of the workshops, the committee engaged the Mount Vernon High School AP Social Studies students as part of a discussion on civic responsibility.
The proposal calls for adding new roads leading from the major thoroughfares (what the committee calls arterial roads) in and out of the town and widening and improving the existing ones, which carry commuters from the artery roads (what the committee calls collector roads) and adding roads for neighborhoods (what the committee calls local roads).
Residents can expect convenient access through town via modern roundabouts and modern roadways with wide streets featuring beautifully landscaped medians and modern lighting. Retail areas like in the downtown area will have plenty of parking available, sidewalks and paths. The committee is also exploring the integration of bike lanes and a multi-use trail for walkers, runners and bikers. All improvements to the town square area are expected to be done in accordance with preserving its historical character.
The Connect Fortville committee is hoping to have their plan approved and adopted in October. To check out the future of transportation access and get the latest updates on plans and developments in the area, go to the Town of Fortville’s Facebook page.