It seems fitting that the process of adding an interchange to relieve congestion on Interstate 69 appears to move about as fast as, well, rush-hour traffic on Interstate 69.
The town of Fishers and Hamilton County agreed in late 2012 to help pay for a new exit at 106th Street in hopes of easing the strain on the existing exits at 96th Street and 116th Street, both notorious commuter bottlenecks.
If everything goes as planned—federal Highway Department approval, environmental clearance, interchange design, land acquisition, bid letting and two construction seasons—the $25 million-plus project could open to traffic in mid-2017, project engineer Jeromy Richardson told local officials this month.
Hired by the lead-agency Indiana Department of Transportation about a year ago, of Indianapolis-based United Consulting is working through the federal interchange-justification process, a meticulous procedure required to add interstate access. Final signoff is expected by the end of year, Richardson said.
Still to be decided: Which type of interchange will be built.
The consultants are presenting five alternatives, but the two most promising options are the so-called “tight diamond” design with stoplights at the top of exit ramps (like 96th and 116th streets now) and a two- or three-lane oval roundabout that would keep traffic moving over a pair of bridges spanning I-69.
(Two small bridges are cheaper than one large bridge, Richardson said, which makes the oval roundabout more affordable than the similar figure-eight or “dog bone” roundabout in place on 116th Street over Keystone Parkway in Carmel.)
Estimated costs are running a bit higher than the original $25 million budget, he said—one (unlikely) option exceeds $36 million—but the project still has a long way to go. As the details are refined, the final expenses will come into focus and plans can be adjusted as needed. For example, the difference between a roundabout with two lanes or three can be significant, he said.
About 110,000 vehicles travel that stretch of I-69 daily, and the area is still growing.
What’s your take on the new interchange? Will it be worth the wait?