INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Indianapolis drivers breathed a sign of relief upon hearing the long-awaited news — all lanes of Interstate 65 that had been shut down for bridge repairs were reopened ahead of schedule.
Barricades were removed at closures downtown and on the city’s northwest side by early Saturday morning, transportation officials confirmed.
The multimillion-dollar project called for around-the-clock construction at six bridges along I-65 and was initially expected to keep portions of the interstate closed until Sunday.
Contractors earned a $50,000 bonus by finishing construction early, according to the Indiana Department of Transportation (INDOT).
The department said they offered an additional $50,000 a day, for up to five days, if crews were able to reopen I-65 before the August 5 deadline.
Downtown traffic appeared to be moving normally by 8 a.m. Saturday, as commuters who had been forced to rely on detours for more than a month quickly readjusted to having I-65 open.
One driver lowered his window and cheered as he turned onto the newly reopened on-ramp at 12th and Illinois streets; others looked up in surprise and excitedly snapped photos of the barrier-free intersection while stopped at red lights.
Additional interstate closures are on the horizon, however, and will impact commute times in other parts of the city this fall.
INDOT is scheduled to close portions of I-465 beginning September 14.