TIPPECANOE COUNTY, Ind. (Aug. 14, 2015)—Interstate 65 northbound lanes between Lebanon and Lafayette are expected to reopen mid-September.
Seven days ago, INDOT shut the bridge down, deeming it unsafe, after noticing suspicious movements, like shifting and tilting.
Friday INDOT said the repair will take weeks, and they hope to open the bridge in mid-September, meaning anyone traveling north will have to deal with delays for a while.
“That's just devastating,” said Ray Highland, “It’s very much an inconvenience.”
Ray Highland wasn’t taking too kindly to the news that it will likely be mid-September before the I-65 bridge over Wildcat Creek in Lafayette opens again. He lives along a detour route.
“We're working to accelerate it as much as possible. we’ve made this our top priority,” said Will Wingfield, with INDOT.
INDOT closed the bridge for the second time last Friday and in the days since didn’t have a timeline for repair.
Friday the agency announced contractors came up with a fix.
Crews will stabilize the piers by installing small steel casings and rods into the footers. INDOT said ongoing construction caused the bridge to shift, when workers drove steel piles into an artesian well below ground.
“That released that water and sand that's under pressure. Some of that percolated up and we believe that's what caused the pier to settle,” said Wingfield.
The fix won't come fast enough for Purdue University's move-in, though.
The university expects 6,000 students will head to West Lafayette by Monday and Tuesday for orientation, with thousands more making the drive before class starts August 24th.
“Hopefully everything will run smoothly, but if there's some changes we want to let people know,” said Jim Bush, with Purdue University.
Bush said the university will live tweet any traffic tie-ups Monday and Tuesday, as well as update its Facebook page.
Students have also received email notifications about potential delays.
Still, students believe it could all be a headache.
“It’s a mess just with everything working the way it’s supposed to,” said Jenna Schmidt, who moved in Friday, “I can’t imagine what it’s going to be like with I-65 closed,” she said.
INDOT said they have seen traffic improve along detour routes, but the agency continues to ask for the public’s patience as the bridge remains closed.
INDOT said detours will add about 25 minutes to your trip northbound on I-65.
I-65 northbound merges to one lane and is diverted onto U.S. 52 at Exit 141 north of Lebanon. The northbound lanes are closed to all traffic between U.S. 52 and State Road 25 (Exit 175). The I-65 southbound lanes remain open within the work zone, INDOT urges drivers to allow extra following distance and stay alert.
The detour over U.S. 52, State Road 28 and U.S. 231 maximizes use of four-lane roads and minimizes traffic signals. To improve traffic flow on the detour, INDOT:
• Activated temporary signals on Sunday at the State Road 28 intersections with U.S. 52 and U.S. 231 in Tippecanoe County,
• Removed the stop sign for U.S. 231 traffic on Tuesday at State Road 18 in White County,
• Installed signage and arrow boards to clearly mark the detour,
• Posted on dynamic message signs as far south as the Louisville metro area,
• Suspended construction where the detour rejoins I-65 in White County, and
• Continues to monitor traffic flow and adjust U.S. 231 signal timings.
The measures listed above have greatly improved traffic flow since the initial closure, and the detour now adds about 9 miles and 25 minutes to northbound I-65. INDOT thanks the motoring public for their continued patience.
While construction continues on many state highways in the area, INDOT has pulled back barrels and barricades to the greatest extent possible on three other routes that maximize four-lane highways:
• I-74 west to I-57 north in Illinois
• I-74 west to State Road 63 north to U.S. 41 north to U.S. 24 east
• Keystone Parkway north to U.S. 31 north to U.S. 35 north to U.S. 24 west