CARMEL, Ind. (November 24, 2014) – Thanksgiving is just days away, and despite the recent poor weather conditions, a portion of U.S. 31 closed since April is still set to open in time for holiday travelers.
According to AAA, more than 14 million Americans are planning to take a road trip of 50 miles or more for Thanksgiving, the highest number of Turkey Day travelers since 2007.
For local drivers headed out-of-town or those having loved ones to their homes here, the opening of US 31 between Old Meridian and 136th Street could be a huge relief.
Parker Willis is eager for a shorter daily commute and says, "They've moved pretty fast, but it's been a long time coming and we are ready for it to open."
The ramps at Main Street and 136th Street are also scheduled to open on Thanksgiving. Officials with the Indiana Department of Transportation say the weather has been a challenge recently, but it was important to open the area to traffic by Thursday.
"The contractor has been working very hard to meet that deadline, that promise that we would have this back open to traffic before Thanksgiving,” says INDOT spokesman Nathan Riggs. “We have a couple of days left. The weather hasn't been cooperating, but we'll take advantage of the windows of opportunity and meet that promise to get US 31 back open to traffic before Thanksgiving."
If you’re taking off before Thanksgiving, drivers will still need to use the posted detours, but even as people return from their holiday trips, Riggs urges people to remember that construction will still be going on along US 31. Drivers should slow down and be aware of road crews working in the area.
"The entire corridor from I-465 to State Road 38 will remain under construction until the end of 2015,” says Riggs. “So even though the highway is reopening, there will be a lot of work left to do going through the next year."
After reopening this section of roadway, Riggs says work will continue in phases along US 31. He says drivers can expect to see changes to 116th Street next.
"The area south of 116th Street, we will be flipping that traffic. Right now traffic is on the inside. We will be pushing that to the outside over the next few months. Likewise, Carmel Drive is closed to traffic across US 31 for construction of that overpass. That will be opening up to traffic over the next few months."
He adds that two flyover ramps will be completed at I-465 and US 31 in 2015, along with work in Westfield between SR 32 and SR 38.
“A lot of changes are going to be taking place, shifting traffic, so that we can leave these highways open to traffic and still get these improvements completed before the end of 2015."