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South Split Project could add detours and delays for drivers

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The Indiana Department of Transportation has announced its plan to raise bridge clearances on seven bridges in the South Split area this fall. The nearly $20 million project, expected to last 90 days, is aimed at reducing collisions with over-sized vehicles.

More than 400 crashes have been reported since 1999. The most severe case happened in February, when an oversize semi carrying a cherry picker struck the Virginia Avenue Bridge. The crash forced crews to shut down the interstates for the weekend for emergency repairs.

“This is a public safety issue. That’s the whole reason why we’re doing this,” said Will Wingfield, an INDOT spokesman. “We want to reduce the number of crashes, raise the clearance of those bridges and get it open as quickly as we can.”

Construction crews will be replacing one-half mile of pavement for five northbound and five southbound I-65 and I-70 traffic lanes between the north and south splits in Indianapolis.

According to the INDOT website, “I-70 traffic will be detoured to I-465 around the south side of Indianapolis, adding only 2.2 miles to interstate travel. Re-routed I-65 through traffic via I-465 is approximately 20 miles around the west side of I-465, adding only three miles to the trip.”

“That bridge is constantly getting hit,” said Max Foltz, who lives a block from the Virginia Bridge. “There’s been some crashes where you can feel the ground shake. It’s going to be a real big pain, but I think it’ll be well worth it.”

Some commuters are expecting major headaches.

“It won’t be too much fun will it?” said Angie Oechsle. “Some days it takes me 45 minutes to get home when it should take me 15. So, on a bad day? It might take a couple of hours. You never know.”

More information about the project is available online: http://www.in.gov/indot/3154.htm.