Slow going for new 106th Street exit on I-69

May 13, 2014
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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?

  • No More
    Just going to leave a little excerpt from Andres Duany's book Suburban Nation. It bears reading. "There is, however, a much deeper problem than the way highways are placed and managed. It raises the question of why we are still building highways at all. The simple truth is that building more highways and widening existing roads, almost always motivated by concern over traffic, does nothing to reduce traffic. In the long run, in fact, it increases traffic. This revelation is so counterintuitive that it bears repeating: adding lanes makes traffic worse. This paradox was suspected as early as 1942 by Robert Moses, who noticed that the highways he had built around New York City in 1939 were somehow generating greater traffic problems than had existed previously. Since then, the phenomenon has been well documented, most notably in 1989, when the Southern California Association of Governments concluded that traffic-assistance measures, be they adding lanes, or even double-decking the roadways, would have no more than a cosmetic effect on Los Angeles' traffic problems. The best it could offer was to tell people to work closer to home, which is precisely what highway building mitigates against."
  • Freedom!
    Yes, but do you understand why traffic increased in these studies? It's because more traffic lanes allow greater access to the places that people want to be; and as more people are allowed access to where they would like to live, work and play then traffic increases along the recently widened highway. So we are left with a question. Should we widen highways and build new exits to increase access for Americans to live where and how they wish, or should we create a totalitarian state that forces people to live in a manner chosen by a few?
  • No thanks
    I think it's insane that the town would plan for a highway exit that is one block from an elementary school onto a mostly sleepy little road like 106th. This interchange was approved and funds were committed without seeking any public input from residents of Fishers. Imagine that?? My take on the interchange (and almost everyone else I've talked to who uses 106th Street)? We can wait forever. Btw, thanks for the heads-up! This gives us three years to sell and get out.
    • I used to live there!
      My old stomping ground 30 yrs ago. I lived near Zionsville, often thought about an exit there, though I believe I lived 10 miles away. Interesting philosophy on freedom & access. I tend to believe people were very happy with mass transit in the first half of the 20th century. Henry Ford's genius in mass production of the auto sure changed this. But I do agree sometimes it's nice to not disturb the quietness of a neighborhood for the convenience of perhaps just a few people. Progress does not always mean Progressive!
    • Conflicted
      I live near the proposed intersection and remain conflicted about the potential impact in the immediate area. In light traffic, I'm able to get onto I-69 at 96th Street in six minutes; I imagine that the new intersection will cut this to three minutes. The impact on rush hour concerns me greatly, however. 106th Street already backs up from the Cumberland light to the roundabout. Are we ultimately looking at a four-lane 106th Street as a consequence? "Progress"....
    • Everyone hates change
      Having worked in a much larger version of what Indianapolis is growing into, I spent the better part of the late 80's and most of the 90's watching Atlanta turn into the NYC of the south. Most of our issues are a result of several factors. Extreme growth in jobs requiring higher edication bringing more tax dollars to the state, a lack of inner perimeter (465) housing and schools that appealing to those that we are attracting to the state A highway system that was designed in the 1950's. The need of businesses to have a centralized office environment that maintains a 9-5 work culture. Not to mention the lack of a true metro rail system (not all it's cooked up to be). We can always create the Socialistic Modernity state in which there is no longer a sense of self-identity and we all become drones to the state living in our coffin sized domiciles producing efforts that only give the state results. Then we wouldn't need highways to go home to our families and enjoy the burbs like we do today. I would seek those that argue against advancement of the metro area to look to Atlanta, what worked, what didn't. Telecommuting is great for a small percentage as we continue to move forward in our technological driven society. The rest of us can sit on the highway, waste gas, and pollute the air you so desperately love in your backyard.
    • One-way?
      Perhaps the answer is to only have an exit and not an on ramp. As a layperson this may relieve the back up that is on the highway while preserving the school and area in the morning. I would be interested in outcome of this idea.
    • Emotionally Difficult to Handle
      I live off of 106th Street just west of the railroad track and there are so many things that make this an emotionally difficult change for me. I do agree with the concern about the school being so close to the interchange. I'm concerned about noise levels, too. We would be able to hear traffic noise from our neighborhood. I also wonder how they are going to squeeze it in with buildings so close to the road already as well as a retention pond. The logistics of it and the nature of 106th in general - not exactly the most well kept road in the are are big concerns. On the other hand, Fishers is showing no signs of stopping. If this is what's needed to keep up with the growth, then I understand. Unrelated, I'm in favor of the work they're doing on 116th Street with the Depot - it's going to be great for bringing in visitors and I'll be able to spend more time and money locally. Growth spurts hurt.
    • Keep Stalling
      I too live off of 106th, west of the railroad tracks. I cannot fathom how awful the traffic will be on 106th once a new interchange is built, not to mention the noise. If the powers that be want to improve gridlock around 116th and 96th streets, they should add an interchange between 116th/37 and Exit 210 - THAT would cut down on the congestion even more than trying to wedge an interchange in between 116th and 96th. Please keep stalling this project - we need to stay put until 2018 when our son graduates from high school, then we can get the heck out, hopefully with some remaining property value and reasonable property taxes, both of which seem in peril with our town/city government. In addition, those of us in the area (I've been in Fishers for 18 years) were promised multiple times that since 116th and 96th were the "major thoroughfares" that 106th would never be widenened to 4 lanes, largely due to the residential development all along that stretch of road. How quickly people forget their promises when the dollar signs get in their eyes. This is about government greed and power, pure and simple. How did this ever get put into process with NO public input?
      • question
        Which is more disruptive? Constant construction, opening up more lanes and interchanges, or gridlock? Seems to me we have had years of gridlock caused BY construction. How is all this construction helping traffic flow? Which came first, the chicken or the egg? Like other commentors, seems to me, the more traffic flow you enable, the more construction you demand down the road.
      • No to interchange
        The bottom line is the 106th St. interchange should never be built, and hopefully we still have time to change minds. Having all of the traffic go right by a public elementary school is a horrendous idea, from a traffic point of view and a safety point of view for the children. 96th St. and 116th St. take care of the east side of Fishers in that area just fine. This is something that those of us most closely affected by this decision need to let our new incoming mayor and council people know just where we stand on this.
        • Agreed!
          Keith, I couldn't agree with you more!
        • 106th St
          All the talk about the elementary school at 106th and Lantern. What about the elementary school on Lantern just south of 116th? That's about the same distance from the 116th St I-69 interchange and currently, you're forcing a lot of traffic that goes to the Crosspoint office park down Lantern past that elementary school. Is that school less important or something? Fact is, this interchange is to help people going to and from all the offices on either side of I-69 near 106th St which will help some of the congestion on 96th St and 116th St. Some extra traffic may bleed onto 106th St beyond the office parks but it's only going to be your neighbors. So if you don't want the increased traffic on 106th St by your neighborhood, tell your neighbors not to use this interchange. By the way, this isn't going to do anything to the traffic on 106th St like it already is in Carmel on streets similar, such as 106th St, 126th St, Main St. All 2 lane roads, all have schools on them (in fact 4-lane Hazel Dell Pkwy has an elementary school with no problems), and all get bumper to bumper traffic during rush hour. 106th St in Fishers will be nothing like this. There is no talk to widen it except at the interchange (between both branches of Lantern Rd. The change is not going to be near as drastic as doomsayers here seem to think it will be.
        • Fishers Gal 100% on the money
          No question that an interchange should have been built north of 116th street and before the HTC exit, but unfortunately that ship sailed many years ago without it ever being considered. An interchange at 106th street is not the answer.
        • No to the 106th St. Exit
          Don't make another mistake to clear up an old mistake. They should've built an exit at 126th where they have the room (already 4 lanes) and is likely the place where a lot of the traffic from 69 would go. Plus it would've alleviated the mess at 126th and SR37! Yet another example of poor infrastructure decision making. Hopefully by waiting they will come to their senses.
        • Look at Case Studies
          Look at Vancouver. Look at Atlanta. Look at northwest Ohio. One of these areas built 0 new lane miles of highway/interstate over the past two decades. One of these areas is seen as a model for sustainable growth and economic power. Does Indy/Carmel/Fishers want to become the next Atlanta? The next Houston? The next LA? We can keep feeding this addiction of owning cars, living in the suburbs, but still working 25+ miles away. Or we can take a different approach and realize that it is hard scientific fact that more lanes, exits, and roadway infrastructure will only increase traffic in the long run. Instead of building an exit Fishers should build Class A office space in their new "downtown" area and give suburban home owners a place to work in their own town. I live in Fishers and every time they talk about adding lanes to I69 or widening arterial streets to "ease traffic" I just laugh and the discussion begins again with my wife of "where can we move to escape this?"
        • You don't have to work far away
          You don't have to work 25 miles away to need to use the highways. I live west of the tracks off 106th Street, and for 8.5 years I worked at Sallie Mae - 2 miles from driveway to parking lot. It would have been a HUGE hassle if I had had to deal with a highway interchange and traffic. And I needed my car at work because I have a child who was in daycare nearby and then in elementary school (north of 106th on Lantern Road). Now I work in Saxony and I use I69 daily to get to Exit 210 - it's much quicker than taking surface streets. I still wouldn't use the 106th Street interchange, except maybe on the weekends or in the evening if I was going into the city. I don't see people who are coming from the south going up to a 106th Street exit to get off the highway so they can go south into Crosspoint. They can get off easily at 96th and come in from Hague Road. There's little traffic congestion there. I still say more traffic snarls would be abated by putting an exit north of 116th, so all the people who live north of there and south of Exit 210 can exit closer to their homes. More development is coming up there than in the 106th Street area, which is mostly built-up and mostly residential.
        • Future development
          The naysayers seem not to consider the reality that there is a lot of undeveloped property in the 106th/I-69 area that was recently protected by town ordinance against non tax paying entities (Churches, not-for-profits) from developing. This is because it's very valuable land that, once commercially developed, will generate a lot of taxes. It will also generate a lot more traffic. The exchange is not only about alleviating congestion today, but considering what is coming in the next 5 to 10 years. Building the proper infrastructure will lead to commercial development...something Fishers sorely needs.
        • Mass Transit
          MASS TRANSIT!!!! Is anyone with a vision working on a real long-term solution other than expanding bus service?
        • Typical MO
          I've been in Fishers for 15 years, been to many town meetings. Scott F and a few of his council crew have a long history of allowing town folk to object ... then moving forward to suit themselves. Check out the map of the self serving and silly annexation of Town council president Scott Faultless's home into Fishers (so he could stay president after someone noticed and reported that he didn't live in Fishers ..and therefore couldn't be President)! Sorry ... but its truth
        • As a nearby resident
          As a nearby resident who lives in the neighborhoods right on 106th, what boggles my mind is they ripped out the four way traffic lights in favor of a two lane circle right before where they are gonna be putting in these ramps. This just says to me this is going to make traffic worse on my street because most people don't know how to drive in a circle. Also, I wish they wouldn't put one in cause all that is going to do is just make it far more busy for use in the long run.

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