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Indiana’s U.S. 31 Part II: Corridor on the Fast Track

Fri July 20, 2012 - Midwest Edition
Jennifer Rupp


The new southbound U.S. 31 to Keystone Parkway flyover ramp was completed by Walsh Construction and opened to traffic on July 3.
The new southbound U.S. 31 to Keystone Parkway flyover ramp was completed by Walsh Construction and opened to traffic on July 3.
The new southbound U.S. 31 to Keystone Parkway flyover ramp was completed by Walsh Construction and opened to traffic on July 3. Beaty Construction completed its $6.3 million contract to build the 146th Street bridge in 2011. Walsh crews pour concrete on the new southbound Keystone Parkway bridge over the Hagan-Burke Trail and Cook Creek.

Governor Mitch Daniels announced in early March 2012 the Indiana Department of Transportation’s intent to speed up U.S. 31 Hamilton County construction and open the project to traffic three years earlier than expected (2015 vs. 2018) by combining individual corridor projects into one contract. While INDOT continues to evaluate options and finalize design, maintenance of traffic and funding details, the goal is to award the contract by the end of the year 2012.

The objective of the US 31 Hamilton County corridor project is to upgrade 13 mi. 20.9 km) U.S. 31 to federal interstate standards. Reconstructing the roadway to a limited-access freeway will replace 15 signalized intersections on U.S. 31 between Interstate 465 and State Road 38 with interchange ramps — designed to reduce travel time and improve safety. The upgrades also will provide continuity of commerce and regional travel for a US highway that stretches from Michigan to Alabama.

Three construction contracts have been awarded to date as part of the greater U.S. 31 Hamilton County corridor project.

The first contract was awarded in February 2011. The Indiana Department of Transportation (INDOT) awarded the $6.3 million contract to Beaty Construction of Boggstown to reconstruct and widen the 146th Street bridge over U.S. 31 in Carmel. The bridge expansion accommodates the U.S. 31, Keystone Parkway and 146th Street interchange currently under construction, which will tie into the south side of the new bridge.

The second contract also was awarded in February 2011, but this one went to Milestone Contractors of Columbus to upgrade the intersection of U.S. 31 and State Road 38 to an interstate-style exit ramp system. The “folded diamond” design eliminated any land impacts to nearby MacGregor Park, which is located near the northeast quadrant. In addition to the ramp system, the project will reconstruct 1.25 mi. (2 km) of U.S. 31 and build two overpass bridges to carry north and southbound U.S. 31 traffic over State Road 38. Both the bridges and the ramps will contain MSE walls. The total for this contract is $19.6 million.

In October 2011, Walsh Construction of Crown Point was awarded the $35.7 million contract to reconstruct approximately one mile of U.S. 31 mainline and construct an interchange ramp system connecting U.S. 31, Keystone Parkway and 146th Street in Carmel. The project is currently constructing southbound U.S. 31 mainline, an entrance ramp from 146th Street to southbound U.S. 31, and an exit ramp that leads to a new roundabout where Range Line Rd. (east), Circle Drive (south) and Clay Terrace Blvd. (west) intersect. The southbound U.S. 31 ramp to Keystone Parkway was opened to traffic ahead of schedule on July 3. The northbound side will be closed by the end of the month for up to 80 days for reconstruction.

In Phase 1 of the Walsh contract, four bridges are being constructed: a southbound U.S. 31 to southbound Keystone Parkway two-span flyover (complete); a second bridge on southbound Keystone Parkway over the Cool Creek and Hagan-Burke trail (complete); a bridge on southbound U.S. 31 over Range Line Road; and a bridge for northbound Keystone Parkway to U.S. 31 over northbound U.S. 31 exiting to 146th Street.

Phase 2 of the contract will focus on the northbound side and will construct northbound U.S. 31 mainline, a northbound U.S. 31 exit ramp, and a northbound Keystone Parkway ramp to northbound U.S. 31. Two additional bridges will be constructed: a northbound U.S. 31 bridge over Range Line Road, and a northbound Keystone Parkway bridge over the Cool Creek and Hagan-Burke Trail. Phase 1 and 2 contain a total of six bridges and many MSE walls.

INDOT is currently working on “bundling” the remainder of the corridor work in order to fast-track the project.

Speaking before the 2012 Road School Conference, the 100th such meeting to be held at Purdue University, Daniels said, “We’ve found a way to bring this project forward by three years for the people who have waited for so long for U.S. 31. It will be bid in one bundle, and be built less expensively and years sooner than would have otherwise been the case.”

Current cost estimates are under $300 million. Cost estimates continue to go down from the original figures due to modifications in design and right-of-way. INDOT has decided to pursue traditional contracting for the bundled contract.