INDIANAPOLIS – A rash of incidents in which vehicles have hit bridges while traveling along Indianapolis’ south split will spur changes along the key interstate corridor.
The Indiana Department of Transportation announced plans Wednesday to close I-65 and I-70 for up to three months to lower the pavement beneath seven bridges at the south split. Work is expected to begin in August.
“It’s our belief that this project will reduce the probability of bridge strikes as well as traffic crashes that occur from vehicles suddenly stopping,” said Jay Wasson from INDOT.
INDOT said more than 400 oversize vehicles have hit bridges over I-65 and I-70 since 1999—a trend that is on the rise in recent years. In February, an oversize vehicle hit the Virginia Avenue Bridge, forcing officials to shut down northbound I-65 and eastbound I-70 for the entire weekend so crews could make emergency repairs.
Crews will take a unique approach to the fix, lowering the interstate instead of raising the individual bridges. The department said the method will be faster and cheaper. In addition, they won’t have to close all seven of the streets that go over the bridges.
Business owners aren’t looking forward to the extra confusion brought on by the project.
“Oh, it’ll be a headache. And, yeah, we have to deal with it,” said Mary Wyman, owner of the Peppy Grill on Virginia Avenue.
Still, Wyman sees the need for the work.
“Particularly this year. I don’t know why, all of a sudden, but we’ve had so many accidents down there on that bridge,” she said.
INDOT will work with the city of Indianapolis to keep traffic flowing downtown, taking inspiration from the 2003 Hyperfix project. Message boards and signage will direct traffic to use the south and west legs of I-465 until the project wraps up. Posted signs will divert local traffic to city streets.
A public open house to discuss the process is tentatively scheduled for July 11. Drivers wanting to learn more about the project can visit an INDOT website dedicated to the project.