INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Indianapolis is about a month out from a construction project that will shut down a major interstate system through downtown.
The North Split project will last for 18 months and reconfigure the north split of I-65 and I-70 downtown. Motorists who use the North Split already are seeing some of the impact as crews prep for the $325 million project.
Mid-may is when Indiana Department of Transportation (INDOT) says the full closure will start; the North Split won’t reopen until late 2022. This Thursday, another traffic pattern change is scheduled on I-70 eastbound to allow crews to continue their preparation.
“The real heavy lifting will begin here in about a month. We will be shutting down I-65 and I-70 through downtown Indianapolis,” said Scott Manning, strategic communications director for INDOT.
Before the full closure, drivers will see temporary lane closures and lane shifting that will impact commutes. Changes will come multiple times each week.
“Drivers in that area, they’ll certainly encounter a reduced speed limit through the work zone; just need to be aware of those lane shifts and changing traffic patterns,” Manning said.
The complete closure is expected to last through October 2022, but, INDOT says, the work and the headaches will be worth it.
“A completely redesigned and reconstructed interchange that will make traveling through downtown via the interstate system much safer and will also have much smoother pavement, much stronger bridges that will last for generations to come,” Manning said.
Of course, the timing of the closure doesn’t bode well for Indianapolis 500 race fans; thousands are expected to come to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway for the May 30 race and events leading up to it.
“That traffic signal work that we have done, some of the spot improvement to local street networks and to some of the ramps in the area, that will all benefit the traffic and help us meet that need that we know we will see an uptick for during the month of May,” Manning said.
The suggested detour is to use I-465 to get around the North Split construction. INDOT’s calculations show it takes about 3 to 4 minutes more on average to drive around Indianapolis on I-465 for through traffic rather than driving through downtown using I-65 or I-70.
More than 1,000 construction projects are scheduled across Indiana this year.