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Indiana DOT Teaches Old Interstate New Tricks

Sat February 19, 2000 - Midwest Edition
Terri Hughes-Lazzell

A 16-kilometer (10 mi.) stretch of Interstate 65 in southern Indiana will receive substantial construction during the five year – 1999-2003 – project, “Revive 65,” that also has received federal government attention.

The stretch of I-65 was built in the late 1950s and 1960s and has deteriorated from the heavy traffic on the four-lane interstate. This stretch of highway will not only receive reconstruction, but also additional lanes to safely meet the increasing traffic demands, according to the Indiana Department of Transportation (INDOT).

The reconstructed Interstate 65 will feature eight lanes between the railroad overpass and the southernmost ramps; six lanes between the Kennedy Bridge and the railroad overpass and between I-265 and State Road 60; and frontage roads parallel to I-65 to improve local access between the railroad overpass and the new Intercity Highway; and reconstructed interchanges.

The INDOT project received a $10 million federal grant from discretionary funds from the Federal Highway Administration. The federal Interstate Maintenance Discretionary (IMD) program provides $100 million every fiscal year for projects that improve the interstate system. “The project that we are helping to fund will yield significant dividends in terms of safety, mobility and economic growth to the people of southeastern Indiana,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Rodney Slater, when announcing the grant.

The award will be applied to the portion of the “Revive 65” project that adds travel lanes and frontage roads between Eastern Boulevard and Indiana State Road 131. The existing two lanes in each direction will be doubled to four lanes.

The $250 million rebuilding of I-65 in Clark County, “Revive 65,” began in 1999 and is scheduled for completion in 2003.

The project began last spring with the beginning of reconstruction of the Indiana State Road 311 interchange, and the addition of acceleration and deceleration lanes along I-65 near Sellersburg. The additional lanes were added to the northbound lanes last year and will be added to the southbound lanes as part of this year’s phase II of the project, according to Todd Listerman, INDOT construction engineer.

Reconstruction of the Progress Way overpass also was part of last year’s construction.

In addition to completion of the construction that began in 1999, shoulders will also be constructed along the southbound lanes of I-65 from the railroad overpass to just north of Eastern Boulevard, and northbound lanes from north of Easter Boulevard to State Road 60 are being widened.

The interstate also is being widened from four lanes to six lanes between the Kennedy Bridge to the railroad overpass. Most of this work will be handled at night because the interstate will need to be taken down to one lane, Listerman said. During the day, two lanes are always left open, he said, as part of the construction plan. Contracts for this phase of the project were expected to be let by the end of February and construction was to begin on April 1, with completion slated for this year.

An alternate traffic route, using Interstate 265 to Interstate 64 to avoid the construction whenever possible, will be posted, Listerman said.

Much of this year’s work also is preliminary work for the “main” phase of construction that will begin next year, he said. This includes widening the highway to accommodate additional lanes for crossover traffic during construction. Temporary pavement is being put down from the Conrail Railroad overpass to north State Road 60 this year. This work also will be done at night to allow traffic to be taken down to one lane, Listerman said.

Grade preparation will be handled this year on the eastside of the interstate. Grades and fills will be completed this year to allow for settling over the winter, before the main construction begins next spring. The grading contact will include wick drains that will be placed to speed the settlement, something that is not commonly done in Indiana, Listerman said. The wick drains assist in draining the water out of soil under the grades, ensuring the grade is ready for next season.

Next spring is when the large portion and the main portion of the construction begins, Listerman said. Revive 65’s 2001 construction year will include rebuilding northbound I-65, between the L&I Railroad overpass and the Intercity Highway. Northbound frontage roads will also be constructed from the Railroad overpass to the Intercity Highway. During this construction season, interstate traffic will be shifted to the temporarily widened southbound lanes that are being put in place during this construction season.

Reconstruction of the interchanges at Stansifer Boulevard, Old State Road 62, Eastern Boulevard, State Road 131 and the Intercity Highway, also will begin next year. All exit ramps will remain open during the construction.

In 2002, southbound I-65 will be rebuilt between the railroad overpass and State Road 60. Southbound frontage roads will also be constructed from the railroad overpass to the Intercity Highway and interstate traffic will be shifted to newly widened northbound lanes, built in 2000.

The reconstructed interchanges at Stansifer Boulevard, Old State Road 62, Eastern Boulevard, State Road 131 and the Intercity Highway will be completed in 2002, and again, all exit ramps will remain open.

Reconstruction of the interchanges at I-265 (I-65 ramps only) and State Road 60 also will begin. These will be completed the following year, 2003, the last year of the “Revive 65” project.

The last year’s tasks also include the rebuilding of northbound I-65 between the Intercity Highway and State Road 60. Traffic will be shifted to newly constructed southbound lanes.

During the construction process, INDOT is using a variety of tools to keep those using I-65 and those living around the area informed. One of those tools is a web site devoted solely to the Revive 65 program, The Web site includes maps of the construction area, timetables for the work, and the latest construction information. Visitors to the site can ask questions or make comments via E-mail, and as this year’s construction season begins in March, additional features will be added to the web site to help people stay informed.

Community meetings held before this construction season, as well as those upcoming, also keep citizens and business owners informed about the work ahead. INDOT held two meetings in advance of the work last year.

The “Revive 65” program also will help educate people about INDOT’s Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS). Hoosier Helper vans are already patrolling I-65 and I 265 on weekdays. These vans, driven by INDOT employees, provide roadside assistance to stranded motorists and help in emergencies.

Some of the other components of Revive 65 involve the TRIMARC traffic management center in which INDOT is a partner with the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet. Hoosier Helper vans, traffic sensors and video cameras, will monitor highway conditions for traffic problems and information will be relayed to motorists on dynamic message boards and highway advisory radio stations on 530 AM. Transmitters and signs will be in place for the construction season.

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