INDIANAPOLIS, Ind.– Project Manager Ed Wilson of the Indiana Department of Transportation goes to work every day on Indiana’s interstates.
“This is kind of like our office, and we invite people to come out and sit in our office and you’ll see how bad it is at times, the traffic just goes by so fast,” he said.
Wilson said there’s a lot less traffic flowing through his “office” ever since Governor Holcomb ordered Hoosiers to stay home to fight the coronavirus.
“There’s no doubt about that the traffic’s a lot less,” he said. “I would say it’s forty to fifty percent off.”
Cutting Indiana’s interstate travel by about half will save state taxpayers $5 million and several months of inconvenience during a project to repair and maintain 26 bridges along I-70 from downtown to I-465 on Indianapolis’ east side.
“We were going to be out here for the entire construction season, April to about November,” said INDOT Communications Manager Mallory Duncan. “We were going to do crossovers so that means we would close one side and cross the traffic over to the other so we would have about two lanes going in each direction and it was literally going to take all summer to do eastbound and westbound in this stretch.
“Now we’ve switched gears and instead we’re going to do two 30-day closures in each direction.”
Eastbound I-70 from the North Split to I-465 was shut down Monday. Next week, the same stretch westbound will be closed.
Both directions should be back open within a month.
“We decided this would be a really easy way to stay out of peoples’ way and we really wanna make sure the public is safe, our guys are safe,” said Duncan. “And this is fast, it’s easy, and a lot of people are at home right now. We are under that stay-at-home order so this won’t affect a ton of traffic.”
INDOT planned to spend nearly $32 million on the originally conceived seven month long project.
“The biggest money saver would be our maintenance of traffic,” said Duncan. “The contractor was going to have to go out there and build crossovers, actually pave a lane in eastbound traffic to get back to westbound lanes and then vice versa. They would have to move barrels. They would have to do all that stuff that we lose time when we do that.”
Wilson and his crews, working alongside the contractors but hopefully six feet away, wear even more personal protection gear than usual to guard against the elements, constructions debris and now the coronavirus while on the project.
“We’re gonna accelerate a lot of things and we’re gonna be able to get the job done faster, safer, and with the coronavirus, we hope we keep everybody safe along those lines, too.”