BLOOMINGTON, Ind. – After four years of work, I-69 is expected to be finally extended nearly another 22 miles, bringing it closer to Indianapolis.
Last August, the Indiana Department of Transportation took over direct control of Section 5 of the project, a stretch that goes from south of Bloomington to south of Martinsville. While no deadline was set, INDOT officials said at that time they wanted to be finished with the work by the end of August 2018.
"The August 31 target date for substantial completion was an aggressive schedule," Andy Dietrick, the INDOT spokesperson for the Section 5 project, said. "Our goal was to get out as quickly as possible. That’s still the goal. Do it safely and do it right, but get out of the way of the folks in Bloomington and that’s still our goal. I think the first couple weeks of September folks are going to see things changing significantly and things will be a lot better."
Dietrick said weather has pushed back some of the work, which is expected to keep workers from finishing before the end of the month.
Substantial completion will mean the road and interchanges will be built, but crews will remain in the area to line the lanes and shoulders, put in signage, and do a final check with workers. Dietrick said crews would remain in the area likely through October to complete those tasks.
"Over the next couple months, you’re going to see a lot fewer barrels and a lot fewer crews," Dietrick said. "It will be a continuous wind down until we get to the point that we shield this as I-69."
Work on this section of the interstate began in 2014. Dietrick said progress is now being made every day.
"The construction area is changing on a day-to-day basis," said Dietrick.
That means drivers should still expect congestion, especially when large crowds are expected to be in Bloomington.
The project was initially estimated to be completed in 2016. Now, Indiana University students are entering another school year where they have been told to look for possible alternative routes to get to campus.
"INDOT just told us today that there will be significant sections of the construction project that will be down to one lane next week," said IU Assistant Vice President of Engagement Kirk White.
Workers are actually spending next week focusing on the southern portion of Section 5, to make sure parents and students can get around.
The university's first football game at home is set for Saturday, Sept. 8. Fans are being told to anticipate delays, too. However, Dietrick said it should improve as the season progresses further into fall.