More lanes planned for I-65 near Lafayette

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The state highway department is planning to widen an eight-mile section of Interstate 65 near Lafayette to three lanes in each direction.

The project, which will add lanes to the highway between Indiana 38 and Indiana 25, is meant to relieve congestion on the heavily traveled route between Indianapolis and Chicago, the Journal & Courier reported.

The highway agency plans to seek bids on the project next fall, with completion expected in late 2016 or 2017, officials said. The new lanes for the estimated $69 million project will be built in the existing highway median, so no property will need to be purchased.

Lafayette Mayor Tony Roswarski said the additional lanes will help drivers in the area.

"Getting six lanes in our urban area for people coming into and out of our community is a big deal," he said.

The project will be funded with money the Legislature budgeted this year for transportation improvements, said Alan Plunkett, the highway agency's Crawfordsville district deputy commissioner.

Between 2008 and 2012, four people were killed and 49 people were injured on the eight-mile section, according to the Tippecanoe County Area Plan Commission.

Sallie Fahey, the plan commission's executive director, said she believed the project would improve safety and has long been needed in the area about 50 miles northwest of Indianapolis.

"This stretch qualified more than 20 years ago — but there was never enough money," she said.

I-65 has four lanes from near Indianapolis until it reaches Merrillville in northwestern Indiana's Lake County.

Plunkett said his goal has long been to see I-65 with six lanes between Indianapolis and Chicago.

"But we have to be realistic and do it in pieces because of the large, large cost involved," he said.

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