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Drivers brace for U.S. 31 closure near Indianapolis

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Residents and businesses in the northern suburbs of Indianapolis are bracing for the start of an eight-month closure of U.S. 31 as part of the project upgrading it to interstate standards.

The Indiana Department of Transportation is scheduled on Friday to shut down a stretch of the highway for more than a mile through Carmel. That closure, which is scheduled to last into November, is meant to allow for faster completion of the project that includes building interchanges and overpasses.

The official detour will direct traffic to Keystone Parkway on Carmel's east side between U.S. 31 and Interstate 465, but Carmel City Councilwoman Sue Finkam said she expects many drivers will head onto city streets in order to get around.

"There's no doubt it's going to be disruptive. Keystone and 96th was already a busy, accident-prone intersection, and now we're going to dump 50 percent of U.S. 31 southbound traffic onto it," Finkam told The Indianapolis Star.

Still, she said she's glad state officials decided to shut down the highway rather than stagger the work over several years.

The Carmel work is part of a $1.2 billion reconstruction project for U.S. 31 linking Indianapolis and South Bend. Other major parts include the new bypass around Kokomo and a new roadway section being built between South Bend and Plymouth.

Sukhi Mann, a managing partner at Amber Indian Restaurant near U.S. 31, said he expected business to be down at least for the first few weeks as people figure out how to get from place to place.

Mann's primarily concerned about the lunch crowd — "they have limited time from 12 to 1 — they don't want to get stuck in traffic."

State highway officials say the agency has worked to spread the word about the closure of the highway that averages 51,000 vehicles a day. Hundreds of people attended community forums about the closure in March, and many others received fliers and electronic newsletters with details.

"On this project in particular, I think our public outreach has been exceptional," agency spokesman Nathan Riggs said.

For more information, Hamilton County offers a site that shows the closures and detours.

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  • Much More
    Having driven from Indy to north of South Bend quite frequently over several years, I can tell you it saves more than 30 minutes. It has shaved approximately an hour off my drive time. The elimination of the traffic lights, especially in Kokomo, has been heavenly. I whole-heartedly, 100% put all my tax dollars towards this project. On the other hand, you can apply your tax dollars to all those budget line-items I disagree with and you support. Election time, we get to vote all-over again. Of course your elected official I can't stand, mine on the other-hand is perfect.
  • Really
    Dave, you're telling me you would support this project if it only saved 5 minutes on a 2 1/2 hour drive, all at a cost of $240 million/minute saved? I wouldn't exactly call that "progress".
  • Folks hate change and/or progress
    It's amazing how folks "hate" on a good, common sesical change. It would be well worth it, even if it saved just 5 minutes. Kokomo had long been a bottleneck, with idling trucks and long waits at the 14 (FOURTEEN!) stoplights. Lots of multi-car accidents because of stoplights from Y-465 to Westfield. I just can't understand the naysayers.
  • 8 more minutes
    Actually, two, the official website says you will save 30 minutes off your drive - what a change! And all for only $40 million per minute saved.
  • South Bend express
    I will be so excited when this is over and I can get to South Bend 22 minutes quicker
  • Map link
    Paul, good suggestion. We've added a link at the end of the story to a site that has more information, including maps.
  • Glad I don't live in Carmel
    Wouldn't it be amazing if someone had invented a method of transportation that doesn't employ a car or bus. And if that method did exist, wouldn't it be amazing if we could build such a system? Oh wait...
  • have theymapped out the bypasses
    Carmel 2 lane roads will be clogged for 8 months, not enough funnel to put 50,000 cars through per day. Perhaps the DOT should put an application out that maps for people the shortest and best route to get from where they are to where they need to be. This might be a good time to put in more roundabouts, optimize east, west corridors across 31. Each east west road must be optimized and it wouldn't hurt to have city police manning the traffic controls for the 8 month period to make sure the traffic flowes properly and efficiently. What better way to use them than as traffic police at this time. Time to beef up all east, west roads to 3 or 4 lanes to handle flow of traffic, turns, etc. I am surprised the DOT hasn't provided temporary 1 lane in each direction. At the least, having detour and traffic routing signs from the 465 exits.
  • Paul
    Paul - In the Eight@8 page at IBJ, there is a link to such a map. INDoT has spent thousands on PR, on this. Here is a link: http://us31hamiltoncounty.in.gov/us-31-closure/ On another issue - another major pain will be North of Westfield, where US 31 will be one lane, each way for over 5 miles. That will be a zoo.
  • Map
    A map showing the affected part of US-31 and the planned detour would have greatly helped with this story.
  • Map
    A map showing this stretch of US-31 and the planned detour would have greatly helped with this story.

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