CARMEL, Ind. (Dec. 21, 2015) – The culmination of $350 million and five years of construction, U.S. 31 in Hamilton County is now open. The 13-mile stretch from State Road 38 to Interstate 465 will allow travelers to speed up their trip between Indianapolis to South Bend by 30 minutes, according to the Indiana Department of Transportation. That’s good news for the millions of travelers hitting the roads this holiday week.
Those stopping at a Marathon gas station in Indianapolis during their drive seemed pleased that any shortened travel time would be helpful to their journey.
“We’re going to see grandma and grandpa for Christmas,” said Megan Saferight, who was traveling with her children. “It’ll take up to two and a half hours because we’re coming from Fishers.”
Other travelers like Richard Chmielewski say expedited travel may help him with the amount of gas his vehicle consumes. “Started at midnight. Actually just planned out rush hours through big cities, but honestly so far so good,” he said.
At the celebration opening the new U.S. 31 roadway, Gov, Mike Pence, Carmel Mayor Jim Brainard, Westfield Mayor Andy Cook and Congresswoman Susan Brooks all thanked everyone who was involved in the construction project.
“The result of a lot of hard working dedicated men and women that bring us to the point where a spectacular stretch of road is open in time for Christmas,” said Pence, who was met with a round of applause. “I love on-time and on-budget and to be here before Christmas to see this project open in just a few short years is a testament to countless hours in good weather and bad weather.”
The project includes 12 new interchanges, 49 bridges, 55 overhead signs, 700,000 square yards of pavement, as well as millions of retaining wall, excavation and earthwork. Crews also removed 13 stoplights, an oft-mentioned element of the project.
“It’ll allow for more commerce, it will allow for more business, it will allow for people to get back and forth faster,” said Brainard.
That’s good news for travelers. AAA forecasts a record 100.5 million travelers heading to see family, with 90 percent of those by car.
“I’ve always said if you’re going to be the 'Crossroads of America,' you better have the roads to back it up,” said Pence.
And, that’s just what motorists want to hear, especially this holiday season.
“Honestly, it’s just about getting home as quickly and as safe as possible,” said Chmielewski.
There is still a lot of work to be done still. INDOT says the ramps at I-465 and U.S. 31 will be open by the end of the month.