Route for last portion of I-69 revealed

Here’s a glimpse from the study released this week:

The path

The final leg is 27 miles long, beginning just south of the State Road 39/State Road 37 interchange in Martinsville, and continues northward to I-465 in Indianapolis. The route follows State Road 37 north from Martinsville for 26 miles to Edgewood Avenue in Indianapolis, then one mile of new roadway would be constructed northwest to Interstate 465.

Why this route?

The four other routes that were considered were either more costly, with no notable advantages in performance or environmental impact, or cost about the same and had a similar environmental impact with lower performance. This path will cut the number of accidents in the counties affected by 1,379 each year, reduce travel times from Martinsville to downtown Indianapolis by 11 minutes, increase wages in the four-county study area by a total of $1.7 billion over 20 years and will increase gross domestic product in the four-county study area by $2.4 billion over 20 years.

Public opinion

Residents were invited to three meetings in late 2015 to hear how the five possible routes compared in terms of reducing crashes and travel time, costs and impact on the land. More than 900 comments were received. More than 85 percent of the comments that supported building the road were in favor of the State Road 37 route.

How will Road change?

The state can pick from several different design criteria. The most desirable plan would require a wider median on State Road 37, meaning that an entire direction of travel lanes on State Road 37 would need to be reconstructed while the lanes in the other direction of travel could be reused. Other options would use the existing lanes but rebuild shoulders and ditches.

What properties AT RISK?

Land along the roadway in Martinsville is largely commercial with some residential. North of Martinsville, the Indiana Department of Natural Resources Cikana Fish Hatchery and Ozark Fisheries are located east of the highway and the Martinsville Golf Club to the west.

More homes are located along the highway as it crosses into Johnson County, and subdivisions are north of Fairview Road. Development at Southport Road is mostly commercial.

The study shows that 279 homes along the route will have to come down.

Intense study underway

The state has studied every road that intersects with State Road 37 to come up with options for closing the road, constructing an overpass or underpass or an interchange, including several different types of interchanges that can be used based on the amount of land that they would require and expected traffic.

The options and proposals will be reviewed by community advisory committees, local governments and the public.

What’s left to decide?

Nearly 5-mile stretch from Banta Road to Fairview Road: What type of interchanges to use at County Road 144 and Smith Valley Road; whether to build local service roads or overpasses at Stones Crossing, Olive Branch and Fairview roads.

About 1.5 miles from Fairview Road to Wicker Road: What type of interchange to build at County Line Road; how to align local service roads between Fairview and Wicker roads.

2.2 miles from Wicker to Banta roads: What type of interchange to use at Southport Road, trail and bicycle routes along Southport Road.

Olive Branch Road: Two designs call for closing Olive Branch Road at Interstate 69 and reconnecting Old State Road 37 through a neighborhood just north of Stones Crossing, or providing access to properties west of the interstate by building a continuous service road from 144 to County Line Road. An overpass is also a possibility.

Smith Valley Road: A traditional diamond or a diverging diamond interchange is recommended. One proposal calls for shifting the interstate slightly west of State Road 37 in this area and building a retaining wall to allow the White River Township Fire Department to continue to operate its nearby station.

The fire station driveway would need to be reconfigured to exit onto Mullinix Road, but that could be too close to an interstate ramp and not an ideal traffic situation. Another plan calls for the location to be closed.

Expected traffic

By 2045, state officials expect about 65,000 to 70,000 vehicles per day to use the six-lane interstate from Smith Valley Road to County Line Road.

At Southport Road and further north, an eight-lane interstate would be needed to accommodate about 95,000 cars per day.

Next announcement

INDOT plans to announced recommendations for access roads, exits and other designs in 2017.