Officials with the Indiana Department of Transportation received feedback Thursday night on plans for a new interchange on Interstate 69 at 106th Street during a public meeting that drew a large number of unhappy Fishers residents.
The preferred design, which carries a $34 million price tag, is a two-lane, oval-shaped roundabout on 106th Street over I-69 with ramps to and from both directions of the interstate. The existing 106th Street bridge would be removed and replaced with two separate two-lane bridges that would each carry one direction of traffic.
INDOT and the Federal Highway Administration would pay for $22.44 million of the project, Fishers would contribute $9.52 million and Hamilton County would pay $2.04 million.
Under a preliminary schedule, construction would start in April 2016 and be completed in June 2017.
During that time, 106th Street traffic would be detoured to Hague Road, 96th Street and Lantern Road. All lanes on I-69 would remain open during the day, but there would be nighttime closures bridge construction and other work.
INDOT officials stressed during the meeting in a full auditorium at Fishers City Hall that the new interchange is necessary to reduce congestion and improve safety on I-69 between 96th and 116th streets. It would also provide access to undeveloped commercial land bordering the highway near 106th Street.
Jeremy Richard, project designer with Indianapolis-based United Consulting Engineers and Architects, said that after the interchange is constructed, 106th Street would be widened to two lanes in each direction. Curbs and gutters would be added to 106th Street to improve drainage and an 8-foot sidepath would run along the north side of 106th Street.
Alternative designs for the interchange were briefly presented, but Richard said the oval roundabout option would provide the shortest traffic delays during peak hours. The cheapest option was a tight diamond interchange, similar to the 96th Street exit, and would cost $32 million.
The preferred design that INDOT presented would require 9.5 acres of additional right-of-way land, which is currently zoned commercial, agricultural and forest.
More than 20 people spoke during the public comment period and none of them expressed support for the project. Most of the comments were from nearby residents who expressed concerns about increased traffic on 106th Street, which is surrounded by neighborhoods not far from the interstate and already gets congested during peak hours.
Many residents criticized the city government for a lack of communication and not proactively improving 106th Street in anticipation of the project.
Several people referred to the detour plan as a “nightmare,” including resident Jennifer Baker.
Baker also said the project seems to only benefit businesses looking to locate off the highway.
Century 21 Scheetz real estate agent Jan Campbell said near the end of the meeting that there are 12 acres of land near that interchange that she expects will become a commercial development, possibly a small shopping center.
“It will be some commercial whether this goes through or not,” Campbell said.
INDOT is accepting additional public feedback on the project until Sept. 25. Residents can mail comments to the INDOT Office of Public Involvement at 100 N. Senate Ave. Room N624, email comments to email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org, or call 855-463-6848.