Motorists on Section 5 of the Interstate 69 (I-69) project are about a week away from being able to traverse the highway at interstate speeds, according to the Indiana Department of Transportation (INDOT).
Scott Manning, a spokesperson with INDOT, said that paving along the stretch of interstate has been done for a while.
“All of the pavement markings are down now, both the striping and the reflective markings,” Manning said.
Also along the shoulders of the recently minted interstate are all of the guardrails.
As motorists make their way between Martinsville and Bloomington, they will notice that all lanes are open in the rural stretches of the roadway.
“In terms of traffic control, we do have the corridor open to four lanes throughout (the highway),” Manning said.
As the highway enters the Bloomington area, it becomes a three-lane highway in each direction and Manning said there are some lane closings in that area of the highway.
“We do have a lane on the outside closed between Kinser Pike and Sample Road for some grading work there,” Manning added.
For the most part, the state is working on final grading, placing stone and completing some drainage work.
“So, a lot of what we are doing now is not on the actual roadway itself, but is in the shoulder and median areas,” Manning said.
Section 5 runs between Bloomington and Martinsville ending at the Indian Creek Bridge.
After multiple delays in the substantial completion of the project, INDOT took over management of the construction from I-69 Development Partners in August 2017.
At the time, INDOT set a date of Aug. 31, 2018, as the date of substantial completion for the stretch of interstate.
That date came and went, with items on INDOT’s checklist still incomplete, like the addition of guardrails and striping.
On Monday, Manning added that the term “substantial completion” varies from contract to contract.
“All of the roadway work is done and it is open to four lanes of traffic now and we are hoping that within the next week or so to be able to remove the work zone speed limit of 45 miles per hour and go to interstate speed,” Manning said.
On the rural stretches of the interstate, the speed limit will be 70 mph for vehicles such as cars, vans, pickup trucks and SUVs.
For larger vehicles like semis, the speed limit will be 65 mph.
In Bloomington, though, the interstate speed will be reduced to 55 mph as that area of the highway is considered urban.
“The way speed limits are set up, generally on a freeway in an urban area, the speed limit is 55 (miles per hour),” Manning noted.
Section 6 update
Section 6 runs from the Indian Creek Bridge to I-465 in Indianapolis.
“Things are progressing on schedule for Section 6,” Manning said. “Obviously, we got the record of decision from the Federal Highway Administration back in the spring.”
In September, INDOT hosted a meeting at Martinsville High School where the state announced the plan to close Ind. 37 in Martinsville for one construction season to upgrade that highway to interstate standards. The planned frontage roads, overpasses and underpasses are expected to be completed prior to the closure to help maintain travel for local travelers.
For thru-traffic heading north to Indy or south to Bloomington, drivers will be asked to use a detour, which includes the Ind. 39 bypass, Ind. 67 and Ind. 144.
Local traffic will be able to access Ind. 37 north of Morgan Street.
“Now we are in the design phase, and in spring, we will start construction on some of the local street projects there in Martinsville,” Manning said.
The hope is to have the local streets in Martinsville updated before construction on the interstate begins so that residents still have access to businesses located near the corridor.