Weather delays highway project

A project to remove dangerous curves on State Road 44 was scheduled to wrap up this week, but recent heavy rainfall has pushed the project back nearly a month.

The project will fix a dangerous curve along State Road 44 at Centerline Road. Workers are realigning a quarter-mile of the highway, moving the road 1,500 feet to the west of where the curve currently sits, as well as reconnecting Centerline Road with State Road 44.

Work on the project began in April, but crews have not been able to do work at least 30 days in the past few months due to heavy rain and flooding in the project area.

The state project is not the only one that has been delayed by rain. Multiple other projects, including on U.S. 31 and Interstate 65, have been delayed due to rain, according to the Indiana Department of Transportation.

The contractor has installed two, 8-inch pumps in the project area, meant to pump out water that has led to flooding as recently as last week. But even those pumps aren’t enough to keep the area dry, project superintendent Dan Ricketts said.

Because of the flooding, workers haven’t been able to install a new culvert, or drainage pipe, under State Road 44 and Centerline Road.

Workers plan to have that done by this week. Once that culvert is installed, flooding won’t be quite the issue it has been, Ricketts said.

That will allow workers to pour concrete and place asphalt, which they haven’t been able to do so far because of the rain and flooding. Workers will need to close State Road 44 for two weeks while new pavement is connected to the existing roadways, Ricketts said. Currently, the plan is to close the road Aug. 10 and reopen it Aug. 24.

But that is dependent on the weather, state department of transportation spokesman Harry Maginity said.

“If we continue to have rain, that tentative date will continue to move and move,” Maginity said. “It’s just a mess out there. They can’t do dirt work, no paving. Rain is a setback. It’s a waiting game.”

Workers have lost about 30 days to rain so far, Ricketts said.

Even if the area isn’t flooded, if the ground is saturated workers can’t do anything because the dirt doesn’t compact, which means it isn’t solid enough to put down pavement, Ricketts said.

And when rain has led to flooding or saturation around the work area, they’re losing more than just the day it rained.

“If it rains one day, we’re typically unable to work the next day,” Ricketts said. “We probably lose two to three work days on a one-day-rain.”

On the days they’re able to get work done, they’re working 10 to 12 hours, he said.

Once the culvert is installed, workers can begin preparing the area for pavement. When the road is closed, motorists can use detours at County Road 100W and County Road 100S, Johnson County Highway Engineer Mike Pelham said.

Corey Elliot is a reporter at the Daily Journal. He can be reached at or 317-736-2719.