Paving the Way to Better Infrastructure In Noblesville
Photographer: Amy Payne
Since Mayor John Ditslear took office in 2004, Noblesville’s population has grown by more than 20,000. During that time the city’s roads, alleys and major corridors have seen steady improvements and enhancements, as the mayor has made infrastructure a key priority — both to ensure the safety of residents and to foster continued commercial and residential growth throughout the city.
“Infrastructure is a key component to the success of a city because it impacts so many areas,” says Ditslear, adding that Noblesville has grown from 174 road miles in 2004 to 298 miles in 2018.
“Without connectivity, public safety would have issues responding to emergency calls in a timely manner,” he adds. “Attracting businesses and development is more difficult if your roads are cracking and failing. Sidewalks and trails provide residents with place-making, physical activity and a chance to be outdoors in a safe environment.”
Under Ditslear’s leadership, Noblesville has spent a total of $30.5M on its annual street rehabilitation program to address the most necessary infrastructure needs within the city. Under the program each year, city engineers view all streets and alleys and complete an inventory. Once each road is evaluated and graded, a street rehabilitation list is made based on priority.
“We make every effort to address the worst ones or areas and use public dollars wisely and efficiently,” says Assistant City Engineer Jim Hellmann.
This year marks the fourth year alleys have been included in the rehabilitation program, and as of this year, 6.12 of the 13.92 miles of city alleys will have been repaved.
Residents have no doubt noticed more roundabouts throughout the city as well. Noblesville did not have any when Ditslear began his first term. Since then, 32 have been added.
“We have taken intersections that have caused concerns with regard to either traffic volume or safety, and improved them,” Hellman says. “Federal studies show that roundabouts reduce injury crashes by 75 percent at intersections where stop signs or signals were previously used for traffic control. They also improve the flow of traffic and reduce emissions, which is better for the environment.”
Ditslear says improved roads, alleys and heavily-traveled corridors benefit not only Noblesville residents but those traveling to the city for business, recreation and special events.
“I remember when Deer Creek guests would wait hours to leave after concerts,” he says. “The improvements made to the roadways surrounding the venue — Campus Parkway, Greenfield Avenue, Boden Road, 146th Street, Brooks School Road and Olio Road — have greatly reduced that wait time. Now it may
only take half an hour to leave a Live Nation event at Ruoff Home Mortgage Music Center.”
Major infrastructure improvements during Ditslear’s terms have included the following.
146th Street: The city provided an east-west corridor from State Road 37 to Interstate 69. In addition to creating a major corridor that now features several north-south connections, it provides the city with economic development opportunities including SMC Corporation of America, Saxony Corporate Campus and Hamilton Town Center.
Hazel Dell Road: A four-lane parkway was built, extending south from State Road 38 to 96th Street, creating the easiest form of north-south travel on the west side of the city.
Union Chapel Road: This was a new roadway running parallel to State Road 37, providing relief to the east side of the city. It essentially allows residents in The Meadows to travel from Promise Road south to 146th Street without stopping.
Pedestrian Bridges: The city constructed a pedestrian bridge on Carrigan Road. Morse Reservoir has been a physical barrier to pedestrians, and this bridge allows residents west of Morse to connect eastward. The city has received federal funds to build a pedestrian bridge over Morse Reservoir on Little Chicago Road as well. The project is scheduled for 2023 and will remove the physical barrier caused by the reservoir as well as extend a trail project, completed by the city two years ago, further north on Little Chicago Road.
In 2007, Noblesville Utilities began work on a five-phase Long Term Control Plan, which will span a total of 15 years and includes upgrades to the city’s wastewater treatment plant and collection system. The city finished Phase IV in the fall of 2018, which separated sewers in the northern area of Old Town Noblesville, allowing stormwater to be sent to the receiving stream of the White River and sending sewage to the Wastewater Treatment Plant.
“Prior to this project, stormwater and sewage both ran to the treatment plant, which causes additional workload to the plant,” says Noblesville Utilities Director Ray Thompson. “The project has improved drainage during flooding or heavy rainfall.”
Phase V of the plan, expected to begin in 2020, will decrease stormwater to the treatment plant from the southern portion of Old Town.
With the completion of three major corridors — 146th Street, Hazel Dell Road and Union Chapel Road — Ditslear says the city is now focused on State Road 37 and Pleasant Street projects. Work has begun on S.R. 37 in Fishers to extend the free flow of traffic past 146th Street in Noblesville.
“In my opinion, Pleasant Street is just as important as improvements to State Road 37 and is one of our top priorities for improving traffic flow,” Ditslear says. “The Pleasant Street project is vital to creating a connector between the east and west sides of Noblesville while serving as a reliever for traffic from State Road 32 and through our historic downtown square.”