State to widen Interstate 65 south of Southport

Greenwood-area commuters should have more breathing room on Interstate 65 after a highway-widening project planned by the Indiana Department of Transportation.

INDOT will be able to expand a section of I-65 from Southport to Franklin after Gov. Mike Pence signed a bill releasing $200 million in highway construction money, spokesman Will Wingfield said.

The state also plans to expand I-65 in the Lafayette area from State Road 38 to State Road 26, he said. The start dates of each project weren’t immediately available.

The I-65 expansion on the south side would run from Southport Road to State Road 44 near Franklin, a stretch with poor pavement conditions and heavy truck traffic at times. The highway has two lanes running in each direction from Franklin to Greenwood and three from Greenwood to Southport.

The project is still under design, but Wingfield said INDOT is looking to add lanes by maximizing the existing right-of-way. Lanes could be added in the 60-foot-wide grassy median, or in the auxiliary ramp lanes along the outside, he said.

The $200 million was a compromise on Pence’s push to take $400 million out of the Major Moves 2020 Trust Fund, created last year during the General Assembly’s budget session.

Pence and House leaders argued that the money is needed now, but Senate Appropriations Chairman Luke Kenley, R-Noblesville, cut the amount in half based on the state's financial condition. The other $200 million could be released after a review of the state's finances this December by the State Budget Committee.

INDOT would spend the additional money, if granted, on Interstate 69 northeast of State Road 37 and 116th Street, and on I-65 in southern Indiana, Wingfield said.

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