Carmel Mayor Jim Brainard would like a roundabout at every possible intersection in the city, and the next construction project scheduled to start Monday will convert one of the burg's most heavily traveled and congested four-way junctions.
The intersection of Carmel Drive and Rangeline Road will close Sunday night and remain blocked until mid-November as it is reconstructed into a $2.3 million, two-lane roundabout.
The city received $1.2 million in federal funding for the project, and the remainder of the cost will be paid for through the $260 million bond package handled by the Carmel Bond Bank earlier this year for a lengthy list of infrastructure improvements.
That list includes a handful of other roundabout projects, including five more on Rangeline at 116th Street, Executive Drive, Fourth Street, City Center Drive and 111th Street planned for 2017 and 2018.
“We’ve had such good experience with our roundabouts,” Brainard said. “We’re really looking at every single intersection in the city to see if it can be a roundabout.”
The city opted to close the intersection completely, rather than keep parts of it open to traffic, as a way to speed up construction. Carmel Engineer Jeremy Kashman estimated it could take two to three times longer to complete the project if the intersection remained open.
“I’ve heard from businesses over and over and over that they’d rather have a short closure,” Brainard said. “I just think it’s better that we get in there, close it and get it done.”
As part of right-of-way acquisition for the project, the city purchased property on the northwest corner for $2.5 million. The Arby's restaurant on the corner has closed as a result, and the city plans to demolish the building.
“This was a successful location for us that was popular among our guests. However, we were forced to close due to the proposed roundabout road construction in that area,” Arby’s spokesman Jason Rollins told IBJ in an email. “We are actively seeking to relocate in Carmel and are meeting with city officials later this week to discuss.”
The entire property is about 1.05 acres. Kashman said about a half-acre to three-fourths of an acre won’t be used and will be sold by the city.
The land likely will become part of the $60 million mixed-use development by Anderson Birkla Investment Partners LLC known as the Proscenium. The 6.5-acre site where the former Party Time Rental warehouse operated is adjacent to the corner lot.
Other businesses near the busy intersection will remain open during construction. Carmel intends to promote those entities with a marketing campaign, heavily focused on social media.
Brainard said the exact details of the marketing strategy haven’t been finalized, but it will be similar to what the city did with the “31 bites” campaign when U.S. 31 construction deterred customers.
“I think most businesses appreciate the fact that we’re trying to do it quickly,” Brainard said. “Nobody likes construction.”
Crew Car Wash Executive Vice President Sally Grant said most of its business comes from impulse customers driving by on their way to run other errands, so the company isn’t thrilled about the intersection closure, given the Crew location just south of the project area.
But Grant said they appreciate the short timeframe.
“Obviously, it won’t be great for business,” Grant said. “The good news is we will be open.”
Both entrances to the car wash from Rangeline and Carmel Drive will remain open during construction.
“We think long-term the project is very good and will be good for visibility and good for traffic,” Grant said.
The city has agreed to a $508,000 contract with American Structurepoint for the marketing efforts, which will be used during all of the upcoming infrastructure projects, not just the roundabouts on Rangeline Road.
American Structurepoint is subcontracting with several other companies, including Indianapolis-based Stakeholder Incorporated, which created the marketing materials for Keystone Parkway.
An informational website—carmellink.com—already has been launched to keep residents informed about closures and detours. It’s similar to the Carmel Link website used when Keystone Parkway was under construction.
“We’ve taken that and built upon the success of it,” Kashman said.
A corresponding mobile app is expected to launch in the fall.
The timeline for the proposed projects stretches into 2018 and includes other improvements like the long-anticipated Keystone Parkway and 96th Street upgrade.