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North Split design, noise barrier plans unveiled

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — It’s the second busiest intersection in all of Indiana, with an average of 214,000 cars and trucks coming through each and every day.

Soon, the North Split in the heart of downtown Indianapolis will be the focus of a major reconstruction project that will last for the next two years.

In a virtual open house Tuesday, the Indiana Department of Transportation provided the first public presentation of design plans for bridges and overpasses, as well as what engineers are doing to minimize traffic noise for neighbors.

The interchange is 50 to 60 years old and due for a makeover.

Officials said there will be wider sidewalks and lighting designed to be both safe and appealing. They also showed the plan for the detour of the Monon Trail, which officials hope to be a permanent pathway, even when the Monon portion reopens.

The goal, thanks to public input, is to keep a simple pattern for the bridges and roadwork so it doesn’t become a competing focal point in historic neighborhoods.

One more new piece unveiled Tuesday: design plans to keep sound down in those neighborhoods. There will be 15-foot-high barriers on the north side of Interstate 70, east of the split. Other proposed locations that would have been feasible did not have enough public support.

But other design plans will help.

Jointless concrete pavement and bridges will mean less noise. The contractor will also make grooves in the concrete to go with the flow of traffic, not perpendicularly, which could lessen noise up to 5 decibels without making potholes any worse.

Now for the traffic itself, the biggest change is that I-65 from the split to Washington Street will close in both directions for close to 2 years, up to 520 days.

Officials said Tuesday that I-70 westbound to I-65 northbound will remain open, as well as I-65 southbound to I-70 eastbound. For traffic heading to or from downtown, Pine Street to I-70 eastbound will remain open at all times, as well as the exit ramps to Michigan or Ohio streets for traffic heading downtown.

As for any local street closure, like the College or Central Avenue underpass, it’s limited to 90 days combined and adjacent streets will never be closed at the same time.

INDOT also said streets like Washington and West will be realigned for the long haul, along with retiming hundreds of traffic signals.

Another virtual public open house is happening from 6-8 p.m. Thursday.

As for the rest of the timeline, INDOT hopes to pick a design-build team in June.

Construction is slated to begin by the end of the year with a projected reopen date of late 2022. A more exact timeline will be provided once the design-build team is chosen.