-By Laura Anderson-
Brownsburg, IN takes award-winning strides in improving mobility through Town.
The Town of Brownsburg, IN is expanding roadways and creating a more bikeable and walkable community – and residents are taking notice. Based on resident survey feedback, Brownsburg leaders crafted plans to connect the Town by developing new infrastructure that better promotes mobility. Over the course of a few years, the Town has added trails and trailheads, revamped streets, and added roundabouts to ease traffic flow and better serve its 26,000 residents.
The results of Brownsburg’s most recent community survey show that resident ratings for mobility have increased greatly. “We believe that the residents of Brownsburg ranked us highly in this area because of our ongoing commitment to improving our Town’s infrastructure based on citizen feedback,” said Brownsburg Assistant City Manager Brian Hartsell. “Residents recognize the Town’s commitment to motorized and non-motorized mobility improvements as evident in the Town documents, such as the budget.”
Due to the Town’s efforts and the impressive increase in positive resident opinion over the course of just two years, Brownsburg earned the Voice of the People (VOP) Award for Transformation in Mobility in 2018. The VOP Awards are presented by National Research Center, Inc. (NRC) and International City/County Management Association (ICMA) to honor communities that best listen to their residents, craft innovative approaches, and get results to better their towns and cities based on public opinion. Award winners were selected based on their results from The National Citizen Survey™ (The NCS™) in 2017 (now called The National Community Survey™).
Brownsburg is a suburb of Indianapolis nestled in the northeast corner of Hendricks County. Nine out of 10 residents rank Brownsburg as an appealing place to live, raise a family, and retire. The population of Brownsburg has grown nearly 20 percent since 2010. With the area’s continued growth, residents identified mobility as a concern in Brownsburg’s 2015 community survey. As a result, the Town of Brownsburg has worked hard to expand vehicle mobility to not only connect denizens around town but also to major highways and neighboring communities.
Despite the headaches that come with roadway construction, the greater benefit to the community is worth the hassle. “While the quantity and frequency of projects may inconvenience some, our residents understand that the short-term frustrations of advancements in the Town’s infrastructure lead to long-term benefits for the Town,” said Hartsell. “The improvements in mobility for the residents of Brownsburg are a key component of improving the quality of life for its residents.”
Roundabouts are safer, more efficient, cost less, and are more aesthetically appealing than traditional intersections – and the Town has embraced them. The first roundabout, opened in 2016 at the junction of County Road 300N and South Green Street, has already alleviated traffic and made this busy intersection safer. Additional roundabouts are planned or already under construction throughout the Town.
Another major accomplishment for Brownsburg’s roadways was the opening of the Ronald Reagan Parkway in November 2017. This project completed a vital missing section of road that expands the existing parkway from County Road 300N to just north of Highway 136, which greatly improves traffic congestion on north-south corridors and eases traffic in Brownsburg and throughout Hendricks County.
And as a result of these efforts, positive survey ratings for mobility rose significantly in Brownsburg. “[In 2015], Brownsburg residents expressed some dissatisfaction with mobility in the community, specifically in the areas of overall ease of travel and traffic flow,” said NRC Survey Associate Jade Arocha. “The Town listened, and residents noticed. Many mobility-related ratings increased since the previous survey iteration.”
Based on community input from The NCS of 2015, Brownsburg began upgrading infrastructure at a rapid pace. “The 2015 Citizen Survey results indicated that, when asked about mobility, citizens gave the least positive responses to the Town’s traffic flow and ease of travel by bicycle,” observed Hartsell. “In response, the Town budgeted and obtained funds for the development of trail and trailhead projects, safe routes to school, sidewalks, pavement resurfacing, and ADA improvements to be completed leading up to the 2017 survey and beyond.”
Town residents and officials enjoy a good ribbon cutting ceremony, and they have hosted quite a number since prioritizing road, trail, and trailhead projects in recent years. To connect with their neighbor to the south, the Town of Avon, City officials from Brownsburg and Avon formed a partnership to develop the award-winning Bicentennial Trail, completed in 2017, which connects Brownsburg’s and Avon’s trail systems.
The B&O Trail extension project expanded the existing trail to just over six miles of paved path for pedestrians and bikers and connects two of the town’s major roadways – Green Street and the newly constructed Ronald Reagan Parkway. The extension project also added a parking area and covered shelter and a bridge over White Lick Creek. Future plans to further develop the trail include construction of a pedestrian tunnel and additional trailheads and parking areas as well as a scenic greenway along the creek that is in the design phases.
Safety is also a factor when the Town considers capital projects for better mobility. Though the Town ranks very well for overall public safety and as a place to raise a family, these areas can always be strengthened. This is reflected in the Town’s recent completion of trail connectors that provide safe access from B&O Trail and Cardinal Park to the south with East Middle School to the north. Additionally, sidewalks throughout the Town have been replaced or revamped with ramp upgrades to ensure ADA compliance.
Though near the Indianapolis metroplex, the Town of Brownsburg values its open space and has more than 300 acres of park land spread throughout its 15-square-mile geographic area. All that green space makes Brownsburg an appealing place to explore outside of a vehicle – nearly half of residents surveyed report that they opt to bike or walk around the community instead of drive.
This contributes to the Town’s overall high quality of life as reported by its residents. And expanding trails and pedestrian routes make the Town’s residents better connected to the downtown, their places of work, and ultimately each other.
The Town is also engaging in a major downtown redevelopment project that includes reconstruction of North Green Street to add a center turn lane and pedestrian and bike trails to expedite traffic flow. These improvements are necessary to accommodate new offices, a co-working space, luxury apartments, retail spaces, restaurants, and a parking garage, which are all part of the redevelopment plan. It also includes space for the possible construction of a community recreation center, which would further increase access to recreation in the Town.
Infrastructure enhancements – both planned and in the works – ensure that residents can enjoy their new downtown, whether they travel there on foot, by bike, or by car.
These capital improvements are only the beginning. Mobility continues to be a community priority, and the Town’s strategic plan through 2022 reflects this. It outlines additional development of trails, sidewalks, roads, and intersections, and residents will continue to see ease of mobility increase for years to come.
“The Town will continue to obtain input and feedback from residents, not only from the Citizen Survey, but in other public forums, such as Town Hall meetings, public hearings, and informational meetings held on a project-by-project basis,” commented Hartsell. “This input will continue to aid the Town in formulating and refining its ongoing plans for projects that improve mobility.”
Jurisdictions that conduct The National Community Survey™ (The NCS™) are eligible for the Voice of the People (VOP) Awards. Learn more about The NCS.