INDIANAPOLIS — While years-long disruptive projects are happening on busy Indiana thoroughfares, it’s often Indy’s nearby roads getting put to the wayside for a time.
While millions of dollars get spent on big projects, the roads around the focal point of the work are the ones getting beaten up by extra traffic from detours.
Neighbors around the I-69 Finish Line project have gotten a firsthand view of that.
“You can tell the damage that’s been done from the trucks that have to be rerouted through,” said Jody Beach.
Beach owns Beach Automotive, which has been located along Harding Street just past Epler Avenue for about 15 years.
Ever since the I-69 Finish Line project moved up into Marion County, Beach said he has noticed more and more cars and heavy vehicles on his smaller road.
”Our roads actually qualify for a motocross training,” he said. “I mean that’s the only way to put it.”
Roads like Harding Street, Edgewood Avenue, Epler Avenue and more on the southside have been getting beat up whether they’re marked as detours for the projects or not.
Beach said he watched trucks and semis cut corners, squeeze past neighbors and go down roads they’re asked not to.
“Epler Avenue has signs clearly stating ‘No trucks’ but they still go because they don’t have any other way to go,” he said.
FOX59/CBS4 asked the Indiana Dept. of Transportation what happens to these smaller, cracking roads once the big projects are done and the answer didn’t have specific details.
“We go back, we look at the roads that have been official detours,” said Kyleigh Cramer, the Public Relations Director for INDOT.
Cramer said no specific plans for repairs to these detour roads will be made until the project is finished near the end of 2024.
”Those roads will definitely need some work after we come back to them after a few years of work and weight on them,” she said.
Even though these local detour roads are city roads under the Indianapolis Dept. of Public Works, Cramer said the two entities work together when INDOT uses DPW roads as detours for INDOT projects.
Beach says he hopes both sides can come to the table, because he said the roads around his business have been neglected long before the INDOT project started.
“There’s equal ownership on the damage these roads are getting,” Beach said.
Across town, another thoroughfare near a major project is in need of some work. Drivers over the I-65 south bridge watched as the nearby North Split interchange was reconstructed, meanwhile more patches popped up on the bridge.
“We know that this is an older bridge,” Cramer said.
Although it is just outside of the North Split project, the bridge was still in the MOT, or Maintenance of Traffic, for the project.
One of the patches on the bridge was only recently filled in. FOX59/CBS4 reporter Jenny Dreasler was driving home late from work on Friday, Oct. 21 when she hit an unusual pothole on the I-65 South bridge right around the Meridian Street exit.
“My car was just like ‘Bam!’,” Dreasler said. “And I had no idea what I had hit.”
Driving in the middle lane in the dark with cars on either side of her, Dreasler said she didn’t have time to get out of the way before she ran over the obstruction. At the time, she didn’t know what it was.
“I mean it was a bar sticking up out of the highway,” Dreasler said. “I’d never seen anything like this before.”
Dreasler said her car was barely drivable as she pulled over to the side of the highway and called 911, shaken by what had just happened.
An Indiana State Police Cpl. told Dreasler there were two large potholes with rebar sticking out of them right in the center lane of the I-65 South bridge. The ISP official told her three other drivers had hit the potholes, too.
”All of us were so scared and it could have been so much worse,” Dreasler said.
Dreasler said the incident has caused more than $3,000 in damages to her car. Both her front wheels were popped, her front rims bent and her wheel bearings were also damaged. She has been told to file a tort claim with the state.
State Police told her that night that INDOT crews were on scene to patch the holes within minutes.
Cramer confirmed crews were on the scene quickly to put a temporary patch on the issue and a more permanent patch was put on a few days later.
“If our crews need to be out there we will definitely be on call to make sure we can fill those,” Cramer said.
Cramer said there is rebar below the concrete of the bridge, and while rebar sticking out of a pothole isn’t common, this can happen in older bridges that have gone through years of repairs and maintenance.
Cramer said the bridge had most recently gone through maintenance work this past summer with epoxy.
”It’s kind of like a glue, that’s the best way I can explain it,” Cramer said. “We drill holes within the bridge you’re talking about and we put the glue in to make sure the potholes stay sealed.”
The I-65 South bridge is in store for some “modernization” work. What specifically will be done is unknown because INDOT is still trying to figure that out.
The bridge is part of “Propel Indy.” It’s a study asking the public to help identify what areas of the I-465 loop, many more than 40 years old, need to be improved.
It’s a 2-year study, but INDOT has nothing concrete on when these projects will start or what they will be. The study is focused on shaping the next 20 years of INDOT plans within the 465 loop.
If you would like to give your input on the I-65 South bridge or other parts of the Propel Indy study go to the “Provide Comments” section of the website.
As for the I-69 Finish Line project, it’s still on time to finish at the end of 2024. It should be around this time next year when INDOT starts to see what kind of rehab those local detour roads need.
INDOT is currently working on repairing some roads that were not official detours but were used like they were during the North Split project. More than a dozen downtown roads are getting reconstructed by INDOT crews as part of an agreement between the state and DPW.
The agreement is similar to the one between INDOT and DPW to fix the I-69 Finish Line detour roads, except these downtown streets weren’t even actual detours. Just roads people used as their own detours that needed some work after the project finished up.
All the work is costing INDOT about $15 million.