By Zach Osowski
The Herald Bulletin
ANDERSON, Ind. — Slowdowns experienced by Madison County commuters using Interstate 69 near Interstate 465 could extend into next year.
As part of the Operation Indy Commute project, crews are adding new lanes on I-69 to facilitate traffic flow in areas where I-69 meets I-465. This has led to slow traffic while crews shut down lanes to work on new ones.
It’s a problem Nathan Riggs, media relations director at the Indiana Department of Transportation’s Greenfield office, said could continue into next year depending on weather.
“Right now, we have lifted the hour restrictions on the construction,” Riggs said. “We have yet to determine how far they will come on the contract.”
Before the restriction was lifted, the workers were permitted to work only at night. Now they can work around the clock if the weather is good. While this might get the construction done sooner, it has increased delays for drivers.
Riggs said the contract stipulated the work continue until the end of the year. If they have enough good days for construction, the project could be done by then. If not, Riggs said the work would likely start back up again in the spring.
Despite the ongoing work, Riggs said the difference in traffic should be noticeable toward the end of December.
“Motorists should see improvements by the end of the year,” Riggs said.
As for plans in the next few years, Riggs said a pavement rehabilitation project will be making its way up I-69 through Madison County. INDOT plans to repair pavement from the Hamilton County line all the way to Grant County.
The contract for this project has not yet been awarded, so Riggs did not know what company would be doing the work. The letting process will occur on Feb. 5, 2014, when INDOT will review bids and make a selection for the work.
The locations for the pavement rehabilitation will vary based on need. Riggs said there had been some emergency patching in the last few years in Madison County and those areas will be worked on again in the coming year.
Riggs could not comment on plans further down the road for I-69. David Benefiel, transportation planner for the Madison County Council of Governments, said projects are very hard to predict when they are a long way off simply because of budgeting.
Budgets usually only cover a few years at a time, Benefiel said. This makes them hesitant to announce plans too far into the future.
Despite not committing to anything long term, INDOT does have long range plans that stretch into 2025. In INDOT’s Long Range Plan report, it looked at the major highway corridors in Indiana that would benefit from work.
One of the corridors mentioned was I-69 from Indianapolis to Anderson. The report said new travel lanes should be added to enhance traffic flow in that area.
Also in the short-term for INDOT are plans for a new I-69 exit at 106th Street that has been requested by Hamilton County and Fishers. Riggs said the proposed project, which is still in the initial planning and review stages, is estimated to cost $25 million.
Fishers promised $8 million to the construction with Hamilton County agreeing to chip in $2 million. If everything goes according to plan, construction could begin as early as 2015.
Follow Zach Osowski on Twitter @Osowski_THB or call 640-4847.