I-69 plans shift: Overpass nixed, path adjusted to limit disruption

The final route of the future Interstate 69 in Johnson County no longer includes an overpass in the Center Grove area and will be built with fewer travel lanes and more roundabouts nearby.

The state is continuing planning the construction of I-69 along the route of State Road 37, with the final stretch passing through Johnson County on its way from Martinsville to Interstate 465.

Changes to the project unveiled this week will be part of the final plan, and while residents can offer feedback, this is the route that the federal government will be asked to approve.

Three of the key changes in the final route: eliminating an overpass that would have taken traffic on Stones Crossing over the interstate, adding a roundabout at Mullinix Road to keep traffic from backing up near the Smith Valley Road interchange and making I-69 four lanes, rather than six, from Martinsville to Smith Valley Road.

Those changes, along with several others along the final leg of the interstate, were made due to feedback from the public and to save money, said Andy Dietrick, spokesman for the Indiana Department of Transportation.

And even though some changes have been made, such as reducing the number of lanes, more changes can be made in the future if needed, such as widening the interstate if needed due to traffic, Commissioner of the Indiana Department of Transportation Joe McGuinness said. McGuinness is a Franklin resident and the former mayor.

The decision to eliminate the overpass at Stones Crossing Road was driven by public comment from nearby residents and property owners who said it wasn’t needed, because adding an access road would take traffic to the next interchange, and to cut costs, Dietrick said.

Eliminating that overpass saves $8 million, with about $4 million of that savings coming from removing the bridge and the remaining from not having to relocate nearby residents, he said.

In addition, state officials decided to make other changes or stick with previous plans that will call for major projects on nearby roads. Such as:

Add a roundabout at Mullinix and Smith Valley roads. The intersection had been planned as a traffic light, but was changed to help traffic move to and from the interstate exit.

Narrow the interstate to four lanes, two in each direction, from Morgan County north to about Smith Valley Road. Previously, the interstate would have widened to six lanes at State Road 144 as it entered Johnson County. But that was changed because of the current and projected traffic counts through 2045. Lanes could be added in the future. The median will have room to widen the interstate in the future.

The design of the interchange planned at State Road 144 was changed to a partial folded diamond to require fewer businesses to relocate, and make more access for traffic on nearby roads.

The route of the interstate from Fairview Road to Smith Valley Road was shifted to avoid McCarty Mulch, a business along State Road 37, and also avoid impacting the Center Grove Little League fields with a planned access road.

Build roundabouts on County Line Road to move traffic coming and going from the interstate.

Months ago, state officials determined a detailed route for the interstate through Johnson County, including what roads will have an overpass or underpass, and what will dead end at I-69.

The final information released this week gives communities along the interstate, such as Bargersville, the final details they need to begin plotting future development, McGuinness said. The route through the county has been discussed for decades, but uncertainty about interchanges, overpasses, the exact path and the width of the interstate left communities, public safety officials and developers unsure of what to expect.

He called the interstate, which is the final phase of an interstate that will connect three counties, a huge project for the entire county because companies that locate in Johnson County will be able to have their products on Interstate 65 or 69 within minutes.

“The potential economic growth that everyone could see,” McGuinness said. “You know, Bargersville is sitting in a pretty good spot.”

The route was already planned to shift in some areas to avoid requiring residents to move. But since that information was released in March, the state has been collecting feedback from residents, landowners and business owners, along with engineers and local, state and federal officials.

State officials have hosted more than 200 meetings and gotten more than 400 comments, Dietrick said.

Now, that feedback has been taken and used to make changes that will allow better access to the interstate and also save money, Dietrick said.

Through the changes made, the state has cut the number of businesses, homes or organizations that need to move from 900 to 600 in the final leg of I-69.

This week, the state is hosting three public meetings to detail those changes, and again get feedback from the public. The third and final meeting is on Thursday at Center Grove High School.

State officials will consider that feedback when finalizing plans for the interstate, but no significant changes will be made, Dietrick said. Any comments are due by Sept. 29.

The hope is to get federal approval for the route next year. Construction could start on the southernmost phase of the interstate in Martinsville in 2020.

That is where the state will begin buying property and designing the interstate, including having one-on-one meetings with landowners about selling their property, but those are not expected to begin until after the interstate gets federal approval, Dietrick said.

Residents will still have a say in whether sound walls are needed in certain areas along the interstate, and can get involved in planning the aesthetics of some of the interchanges.

The state is planning to spend more than $550 million during the next five years designing the interstate, buying property and beginning construction on the final section of I-69. More than $153 million would be spent in Johnson County.

Another $1 billion is planned to be spent to finish I-69 in the future, Dietrick said.

If you go

The Indiana Department of Transportation is hosting three meetings, from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. on:

Today, Perry Meridian High School, 401 W. Meridian School Road, Indianapolis

Thursday, Center Grove High School, 2717 S. Morgantown Road, Greenwood

Author photo
Michele Holtkamp is editor of the Daily Journal. She can be reached at mholtkamp@dailyjournal.net or 317-736-2774.