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Indiana Road Repairs Stay on the Fast Track

Fri February 17, 2012 - Midwest Edition
Jennifer Rupp


Walsh Construction replaces the bridge at I-74/Crawfordsville Rd.
Walsh Construction replaces the bridge at I-74/Crawfordsville Rd.

Accelerate 465 is an Indiana Department of Transportation (INDOT) project to reconstruct an 11-mi. (17.7 km) corridor of Interstate 465 on the west side of Indianapolis between State Road 67/Kentucky Avenue to north of the 56th Street interchange.

The project also involves rebuilding four over-passing bridges and constructing six major interchanges — one with 10 ramps. Accelerate 465 is a response to increased traffic demands and safety requirements on this segment of I-465. This $423 million project was needed to expand transportation capacity, improve motorist safety and interstate access, and upgrade the road design to current standards.

In late 2005, Governor Mitch Daniels launched an aggressive 10-year, $10 billion transportation plan, known as “Major Moves,” to significantly improve and expand Indiana’s highway infrastructure. A total of $2.6 billion was committed to Major Moves from the long-term lease of the Indiana Toll Road and the plan called for 104 new roadways by 2015 with 1,600 lane mi. (2,575 km)

Under the Major Moves program, 36 percent of Indiana’s state road inventory will undergo pavement replacement or major rehabilitation. Additionally, 1,190 bridges will be refurbished or replaced. Accelerate 465 is one of the projects benefiting from the Major Moves plan.

The largest component of the project was the interchange at I-74/Crawfordsville Road.

This interchange was redesigned to increase capacity, decrease travel time and address weaving, routing, and stopping sight distance deficiencies. The new interchange separates traffic traveling from interstate to interstate from traffic traveling from interstate to the non-freeway, urban arterial (US 136/Crawfordsville Road). To achieve this separation, a service interchange with semi-directional ramps was constructed providing full access between US 136/Crawfordsville Road with both I-74 and I-465. A system interchange provided direction, free flow movement between I-74 and I-465.

Adjacent to the I-74 interchange is the US 136 crossing. The alignment of this highway was altered at the intersection of Crawfordsville Road and High School Road to allow US 136 and Crawfordsville Road traffic to travel along the same alignment, thus changing the intersection of US 36, Crawfordsville Road and High School Road from a four-leg intersection to a T-intersection. As a result, operational confusion in this area was eliminated, and the transition from I-74 to Crawfordsville Road was more apparent — creating a safer conversion from freeway to arterial.

To decrease travel time, the existing north bound to west bound and south bound to loop ramps were removed and replaced with higher speed directional flyover ramps. This eliminated the hazards associated with the weaving areas of the existing full cloverleaf interchange. The I-74/Crawfordsville Rd./US 136 portion of the project totaled $65.1 million.

The I-70 Interchange was another hot spot in the Accelerate 465 program. I-70 runs along the south side of the Indianapolis International airport and has four lanes of collector distributors running parallel.

The redesign of this interchange increased capacity, eliminated a hazardous weave section, and improved travel times by replacing the existing 25 mph east bound to north bound loop ramp with a 40 mph directional flyover ramp. Capacity was further increased by adding a second lane to the eat bound to north bound and north bound to west bound ramps. The south bound to east bound and west bound to south bound loop ramps merge onto a collector-distributor ramp and are separated from mainline traffic by a concrete barrier. The east bound to south bound ramp, added to this collector-distributor system before merging with I-465 traffic as a two-lane ramp entrance, provides driver safety and travel time benefits by reducing weaving conflicts between ramp traffic and freeway traffic.

Within the limits of this project, all I-70 pavement and structures were replaced. The design of I-70 provides a sufficiently wide grass median to allow for the possibility of future lane additions to I-70 and matches what was recently constructed to the west. The redesign of this interchange also addressed existing drainage problems.

There are seven contracts assigned to the program. Burns Construction, Weddle Brothers and Milestone Contractors had one each. Walsh Construction, operating out of their Crown Point office, has the other four. All continuing construction from this point forward is under the direction of Walsh.

With the project nearly complete, Accelerate 465 has improved pavement conditions, provided safe, more efficient interchange designs, and added additional northbound and southbound travel lanes in designated locations. This project also ensures safe and efficient bicycle/pedestrian facilities to improve the mobility, connectively and sense of community to neighborhoods that adjoin the project corridor.

Rated by INDOT as one of its top projects, work on Accelerate 465 started in 2007 and most major construction is now complete. Final construction work will be finished in fall 2012 – nearly two years ahead of the original plans.