By Rick Hinton
“As many of you know by traveling and commuting on I-465 – there is congestion. That’s an understatement,” Rickie Clark of INDOT (Indiana Department of Transportation) opened with at the public meeting held at Bethany Church, 4702 S. East St., Aug. 6. “There’s difficulty just getting on and off the ramps!”
As of this writing, I-465 is currently closed on the Southeast side for two 15-day periods for maintenance as a part of a $150 million project to repair winter damage and to improve pavement conditions. However, soon to come is an upcoming construction project that assuredly will impact commuters, residents and users of the highway on the Southside of Marion County – the I-465 Reconfiguration Project.
Clark and Brian Shattuck from INDOT, along with Dan Miller and John LeBlonde from Parsons (a design and engineering firm under contract with INDOT) met with a spirited crowd to cover where they were in the process, coming on the heels of a previous series of public meetings held in July. While this has turned into an expedited project, they’re still gathering information, figuring this is currently in the early- to mid-development phase. There’s a lot of pieces to the pie. Project stakeholders are INDOT, the Federal Highway Administration, Indianapolis Metropolitan Planning Organization, transit, business, Emergency Services, schools, churches and residents, to name just a few. The reason for the project:
- Capacity – insufficient capacity creates congestion and excessive delays.
- Interchange ramp lengths do not meet current standards. It’s become a game to get up to speed to enter and exit ramps that are too short, causing people to slam on their brakes and swerving to either the shoulder or adjoining lane, sometimes causing sideswipes.
- Issues that need to be addressed prior to the I-69 section project that will merge into I-465.
- Safety – there were 410 crashes occurring on this section of highway between 2015 – 2017. The primary types were rear end, ran off the road and same direction sideswipe.
Capacity, merging and weaving movements affect the safety issue. “There are not enough lanes to handle the daily 130,000 vehicles out there now,” LeBlonde stated. “Back when this was built in the 60s and 70s there were different standards. It met the needs back then; it doesn’t meet them now.”
Section A/B – starting at I-65 to just west of US 31.
- Added auxiliary lanes on eastbound/westbound I-465 (to the outside).
- Reconfiguration of eastbound I-465 to northbound U.S. 31 exit ramp.
- Extending southbound U.S. 31 to eastbound I-465 merge area.
- Extending southbound U.S. 31 to eastbound I-465.
- Bridge replacements at Carson Avenue, Keystone Avenue and Madison Avenue (necessary because of current bridge pier placement).
Section C – from Mann Road to basically I-70.
- Added travel lanes eastbound/westbound I-465 (to the inside).
- Bridge replacement at Moorseville Road bypass.
- Tie-in to I-69 Section 6 Project west of Mann Road.
Section A/B will begin the process with Section C to follow. There will be no right-of-way or relocation, all work staying within INDOT right-of-way parameters. Environmental analysis – streams and wetlands, flood plains, endangered species, cultural resources, noise, community impact – is currently underway. Another public meeting is anticipated in the fall. In late 2020 the contract will be awarded with construction to be begin soon after. Governor Holcomb has mandated that I-465 and I-69 needs to be opened to traffic no later than the end of 2024.
The team closed the meeting for questions. There were many, most revolving around the I-69 tie-in, semi Jake brakes and noise and why the construction was so spaced out. “Couldn’t you do it all at once and just get it over with?” LeBlonde answered simply, “We have to space projects out because, frankly, there aren’t enough people to do the work.”
It’s coming, folks. It’s going to be painful … yet they say – change can be a good thing!