Meridian hoteliers rally to save I-465 ‘service’ signs

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Already stinging from this year’s U.S. 31 closure in Hamilton County, a group of Carmel hoteliers is asking the state for help keeping customers coming their way.

Now, informational blue “service” signs on Interstate 465 point drivers to lodging, food and attractions along the Meridian Street corridor—a key gateway to Carmel.

But highway rules prohibit their use at freeway-to-freeway interchanges, so the signs are slated to come down when U.S. 31 construction is complete.

“Removing those signs will have a negative impact on business,” said Jesse Stauffer, general manager of Staybridge Suites Carmel and spokesman for the newly formed Indy North Hotel Group, a coalition of 10 hotels along Meridian and Pennsylvania streets.

How much it will hurt depends on the property—those closest to I-465 have the most drive-by business to lose—but Stauffer said the hotels could lose 4 percent to 12 percent of their annual business.

An average decline of 5 percent would cost them $1.7 million a year, he said.

Stauffer and his peers plan to make their case to keep the signs in place next Friday at an Indiana Department of Transportation hearing on other signage regulations.

The central Indiana hotel industry worked for years to get INDOT to approve informational signage along I-465, the hotel group said.

In addition to drawing passersby who see the service signs and decide to stop for the night, the signs reassure visitors that they’re headed in the right direction, Stauffer said.

While he agrees the rule makes sense at major interchanges like I-465 and Interstate 70, Stauffer said removing the signs at I-465 and U.S. 31 would carry a high cost for businesses with no discernible benefit.

“They don’t need to be moved, removed or changed for construction,” he said. “Why spend the money to take them down?”

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