Monday, March 30, 2015

This won't be a traffic rant blog — I promise

I have some cool ideas for blog posts. Really. And I'll write them. Someday. But old habits die hard, so to ease my transition from news reporter to freewheeling blogger, I'm starting out with an update on the U.S. 31 project that has been frustrating Hamilton County drivers since 2011. Now that I work in the middle of the construction zone, it's of particular interest. So I dug out a notebook and attended an INDOT open house to hear the latest.


By the time cold weather sends road crews into hibernation this fall, U.S. 31 will be signal-free and free-flowing from Interstate 465 to State Road 38. It will be a glorious thingwhen it's done. In the meantime, it's kind of a pain. That's not a criticism, just a fact.

Here's the lowdown on what to expect in Carmel, the southernmost portion of the project:

When work is complete, U.S. 31 will pass over 106th Street, under a new 111th Street overpass, and over 116th Street—with roundabout interchanges replacing signalized intersections. INDOT says the project will be “substantially complete” by Thanksgiving, although crews will be back next year to finish landscaping, etc.

  • 126th Street/Carmel Drive: Bridge over U.S. 31 expected to open in late May/early June. (No direct access to 31.)
  • 111th Street: New overpass expected to open in June/July, about the same time Carmel finishes a new roundabout at 111th/Penn. (No direct access to 31.)
  • 131st/Main east of U.S. 31: Expected to reopen in late July/early August.

THE SLIGHTLY-LESS-THAN-GOOD NEWS: (months indicate when closure begins)

This is my weekday life.

  • 106th Street west of U.S. 31: INDOT has two projects expected to close the road for 10 days.
  •  111th Street east of U.S. 31: City of Carmel closing intersection of 111th/Penn for 60 days to build a roundabout.

  • Old Meridian Street slip ramp: Access from northbound U.S. 31 closed for 30 days.
  • 106th Street west of U.S. 31: The city of Carmel will close the road for 60 days to tie the Illinois Street extension into a roundabout at 106th Street.
  • Illinois Street south of 106th: 15-day closure
  • 103rd Street: Access to U.S. 31 will permanently close sometime after July 4.
  • 106th Street: Entrance/exit ramp access to U.S. 31 will be closed for 7 days each.
  • 116th Street east of U.S. 31: INDOT is closing for 60 days to build a roundabout at 116th/Penn.
  • 116th Street ramps: Northbound and southbound ramps to U.S. 31 will close for 14 days each.

INDOT also will be wrapping up work on U.S. 31 in Westfield, but I don't get past 151st Street very often these days so I didn't take notes on that part of the presentation. I may really like this freewheeling stuff.