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State to rework key interchange starting next year

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A state project will make traffic flow more smoothly at a heavily trafficked interstate interchange that thousands of commuters use daily.

The Indiana Department of Transportation plans to start construction next year at the Interstate 65 and Interstate 465 interchange, where traffic frequently gets backed-up during morning and evening rush hours. The construction is set to be completed in late 2014.

State officials hope the $45 million project will allow the highways to handle more traffic and prevent bottlenecks for the more than 100,000 motorists that pass through the interchange daily, INDOT Greenfield District media relations director Nathan Riggs said.

According to INDOT, since 2000, the average daily number of motorists who use I-65 from Southport Road to I-465 has increased by 3,000, and the number who use I-465 from I-65 to Emerson Avenue has increased by 12,000.

At a glance

The Indiana Department of Transportation plans to start construction on a project next year that will prevent backups at the Interstate 65 and Interstate 465 interchange.

The project includes:

Additional lanes on both sides of I-65

Additional lanes on both sides of I-465

Additional lanes on the interstates’ ramps

A new two-lane flyover ramp from I-465 westbound to I-65 southbound

Nearly 19,000 feet of sound barriers

Cost: $45 million

Start of construction: 2013

End of construction: Late 2014

SOURCE: Indiana Department of Transportation

The project will include adding lanes to both interstates and the interchange ramps, redesigning a ramp that takes motorists from I-65 to I-465, and erecting sound barriers to block noise from both interstates.

Riggs said the state won’t have to close any ramps during the construction, and most of the work that requires lanes to be closed will be done at night.

In order to address backups, the state plans to add lanes along I-465 to handle more traffic and add auxiliary lanes on both sides of I-65 that allow drivers to travel from one exit ramp to the next without merging into oncoming traffic.

An auxiliary lane on northbound I-65 will allow drivers who get onto the interstate from Southport Road to travel to the I-465 exit without merging into traffic on I-65. The added lane is meant to allow traffic to flow more smoothly because motorists planning to get onto I-465 can stay in one lane.

The project also will replace the ramp from I-465 westbound to I-65 southbound with a two-lane flyover ramp. A flyover ramp is longer than the current loop ramp and allows motorists to drive at roughly the same speed from the interstate to the ramp. Workers will have to reconstruct the ramp from I-465 eastbound to I-65 southbound in order to make room for the new, larger ramp.

Riggs said about 16,000 motorists use the current loop ramp daily. The new ramp will move traffic more quickly and make traffic flow more smoothly from I-465 to I-65, he added.

Parts of the project were redesigned after residents and motorists asked for changes at a public hearing in April. The department already had planned to add an auxiliary lane to southbound I-65, but residents wanted a lane to be added to the northbound side as well, Riggs said.

He said residents also asked for more sound barriers.

Sound barriers are erected along the edges of highway rights of way to help decrease traffic noise for residents and businesses that are near highways. The walls, which can be up to 20 feet tall, block some but not all the noise for homes and businesses directly near the highways.

The department’s initial plan included 11,400 feet of sound barriers on eastbound and westbound I-465 between Sherman Drive and Emerson Avenue and on southbound I-65 between Thompson Road and Edgewood Avenue, Riggs said.

After the hearing, the department added 7,400 feet of sound barriers between Gray and Thompson roads to block out noise that will be caused by the additional northbound auxiliary lane on I-65, he said. The department decided how many feet of sound barriers to add based on current and future traffic counts and noise levels, he added.

INDOT builds sound barriers as part of highway construction projects.

Riggs said the state conducts an environmental study of what areas will be affected by noise that the highway project will bring. That study shows where the state should build barriers that will be the most cost effective and block noise for the most residents.

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