INDIANAPOLIS — Closures and construction on the North Split will likely follow us into the new year, despite the Indiana Department of Transportation’s longtime goal of having the interchange open by the end of 2022.
We talked to INDOT spokesperson Kyleigh Cramer on Oct. 24, and this is what she said: “Our goal is still the end of 2022.”
Now, just more than a week later, INDOT spokesperson Natalie Garrett said supply-chain issues and labor shortages place a more realistic reopening date for the North Split to be sometime in early 2023.
“It’s very possible that some of the movements could bleed over into early 2023,” Garrett said.
Garrett said INDOT is still very focused on trying to get the North Split back open by the end of 2022, but that would require improvement in the labor shortages and supply-chain issues. She said some materials have been taking months to get in instead of weeks.
”We’ve seen some delays with concrete. We’ve seen some delays with steel,” Garrett said.
To fight labor shortages, INDOT is working to funnel more construction crews to the North Split.
”We’re working with Superior, the prime contractor on the North Split, to bring in those extra crews where we can to continue progress on the project,” Garrett said. “As projects are wrapping up in other parts of the state, we’re able to bring them up to the North Split.”
People we talked to who are living, working and commuting around the North Split said a delay was expected.
”You don’t really believe them when they give you a timeline, so add a few months,” Katie Warthan said. Warthan said she used to commute on the North Split before construction started.
”I would definitely appreciate if they opened this up because traffic is just terrible.” said Warthan. ”It definitely adds an extra 20 minutes to my commute.”
Bryce Mosey lives near all of the construction and is ready to see it end.
”I am amazed at all that has been done, but I’m still kind of taken back by what needs to be done yet,” Mosey said. “We have 100 dump trucks go by our house every day.”
Despite all the traffic, Mosey said he is looking forward to the end product.
”I knew that it was going to be a mess traffic wise, but that’s the price you have to pay,” he said.
Drivers will continue to see crews working on the North Split as weather allows this winter.
”Even with the cold temperatures, there will be crews on site doing what they can on the project to keep it moving forward,” Garrett said.
As for what is left to do, Garrett said it is mostly work that can be done in colder temperatures.
”The final bridge beams throughout the entire project were set in the past month or so,” she said. “Now we’re looking at constructing the bridge decks and some paving work. Those are the main activities left to do on the project outside of the more aesthetic work planned for 2023.”
The project was always supposed to continue into 2023, but that work was supposed to be the greenery around the North Split and street connections. Even with this probable delay, Garrett said the entire project is set to be finished before the end of 2023.
As we see prices rise with inflation and other construction contracts going up, Garrett said the price tag for the North Split project has not been reevaluated, but that is something that will come later.
“During the project closeout process, we’ll kind of evaluate the entire project and accessing change orders and things like that that may reflect changes in pricing that’s outside of the initial bid,” Garrett said.
The estimate for the entire North Split project was $350 million.
Garrett said the final days of the project are also when INDOT will look at potential penalties for not meeting deadlines in the project.
”There are various deadlines, if you will, in the contract for the project, and INDOT does have the ability to assess damages for those,” she said. “However, there is some flexibility for factors like supply chain, weather and unforeseen events.”
With labor shortages and supply-chain issues having this impact on the North Split project, we also asked how the end date for other big projects could be impacted.
Garrett said INDOT is seeing some supply-chain issues and minor delays with projects like Clear Path 465 and the I-69 Finish Line, but no timeline changes will be made right now.
”It’s possible, but at this point, we’re still on track with those overall completion dates just in terms of where we are on the overall completion timeline.”
Garrett said the I-69 Finish Line project is almost at the halfway point with a completion date at the end of 2024.