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Motorists moving through downtown Martinsville after State Road 37 closed

MARTINSVILLE, Ind. (WISH) — Most of the traffic that once went south on State Road 37 is being detoured into the heart of downtown Martinsville, bringing with it some mixed blessings.  

Most days, getting around the Morgan County Courthouse Square is a breeze, but that changed with the closing of State Road 37 on Monday morning for the Interstate 69 project.  

“I worry about the safety; I don’t want people flying through here,” said Rob Helms, of Martinsville.   

This project has been a long time coming. The state is finally getting around to one of the final sections of I-69 that will eventually connect Bloomington to Indianapolis and beyond.  

“I travel quite a bit back and forth between Bloomington and Indianapolis, and all of this construction slows things down tremendously,” said Damon Robinson. 

Over the next several months, construction crews are expected to build four new bridges, improve access to the road, install new traffic signals and widen and resurface most of the road, all in preparation for I-69. Shutting down traffic on State Road 37 will allow contractors to work in a safer environment and to bring in additional people. The added traffic is creating some minor traffic issues, which many of the downtown retailers welcome.

“I think our downtown businesses will definitely embrace the traffic of people coming down here and hopefully get some of them stopping here,” Helms said.

The official state detour takes motorists over to State Road 67 and around Martinsville to the north and south. News 8 was told that several GPS navigations systems are directing drivers into Martinsville. 

“Tensions are high; people want to get where they want to get and they are impatient,” said Robinson.  

This is the first week that daytime traffic has been detoured into downtown Martinsville, and already News 8 has heard complaints that traffic is moving too fast and that too many large trucks are coming through downtown.