With the ongoing spread of COVID-19 in Indiana, many routine aspects of life have come to a halt, but one normalcy is continuing: road construction.
Indiana Department of Transportation officials said Tuesday the decrease in traffic during the pandemic has allowed workers to get a jumpstart on the summer construction season.
And INDOT announced it has awarded $126.6 million in road funding to local communities. More than 200 cities, towns and counties will receive Community Crossings Matching Grants, which were announced Tuesday during Gov. Eric Holcomb’s daily press briefing.
The city of Indianapolis did not receive any of the funding, but city officials told IBJ it was not eligible to apply for this round.
Fishers, Noblesville and Westfield are all each receiving $1 million, Hamilton County will receive $567,000, Zionsville will receive $696 million and Boone County will receive nearly $500,000.
The next round of grants will be available in June, and INDOT anticipates awarding about $100 million.
INDOT Commissioner Joe McGuinness said during Tuesday’s briefing that traffic on state highways and interstates is down by 50% on the weekends and down by 40% during the week, giving workers a chance to get going on projects early.
That’s allowing INDOT to close Interstate 70 eastbound and westbound lanes between I-465 and the North Split interchange on the the east side of Indianapolis for 30-day periods beginning next week.
McGuinness said the closure will allow the five-month project to be completed in one month. It’s still unclear what the project involves.
Marion County has been under a “warning” travel level status, the highest level allowed under state law, which restricts travel except for emergency situations and for essential functions, which include to care for another individual, to purchase groceries, food or beverages, and to pick up of prescriptions.
But Holcomb’s executive order signed Monday, which extends the stay-at-home directive through April 20, says local governments cannot issue more stringent travel guidelines than his order imposes.
The order, which took effect Tuesday, will bring Marion County down to a “watch” travel status. That means people should only travel for “essential” purposes like going to work or the grocery store.