After dealing with detours for months, motorists throughout Carmel have been repeating the same question: When will the construction on U.S. 31 be done?
Construction is still on schedule, which means it will be open to traffic by the end of 2015. But in the meantime, some paths to cross will soon be ready, according to officials with the Indiana Department of Transportation.
A new Main Street bridge over U.S. 31 opened to traffic in September. INDOT Spokesman Nathan Riggs said it’s not in its final configuration and the ramps and additional lanes at the roundabout interchange will not open until after U.S. 31 is complete.
Riggs said westbound traffic should be shifted to the north side of the bridge before the end of October. Contractors anticipate setting beams for the Carmel Drive bridge by the end of this month.
By Thanksgiving, the section of U.S. 31 – currently closed between Old Meridian south junction and 136th Street – will open to traffic, Riggs said.
The Carmel section between the I-465 interchange area and the Monon Trail overpass is anticipated to be open to traffic by the end of 2015.
Riggs said construction is underway on U.S. 31 south of I-465 and could cause some congestion.
“However, this area was heavily congested prior to construction,” he said. “Reducing this congestion, eliminating traffic signals and improving safety are some of the key motivations behind this project.”
Two flyover ramps are being constructed and will be finished by the end of 2015.
While some view it as good news that construction is on schedule, business owners along U.S. 31 still say it’s been tough. John Perazzo, owner of J. Razzo’s, an Italian restaurant near construction, sent Current a letter detailing how difficult it has been. He wrote that he’s had to cut staff hours.
Some have raised the question about whether increased traffic on Keystone Avenue – due to the closure – means that Keystone will need serious repairs when this is all over.
Carmel City Engineer Jeremy Kashman said there has been an increase in traffic but, “the roadway is functioning very well.”
“At this point in time I do not see where large wholesale repairs will be needed on Keystone in the short term,” he said. “Keystone was designed and constructed to handle the anticipated traffic.”
Rick Sharp, city councilor and possible candidate for mayor, has concerns about the status of Keystone. While he stressed that he’s not a structural engineer, he said questions need to be asked, especially since unlike U.S. 31, Carmel is on the hook for repairing Keystone.
“In the past, we’ve been told that everything is fine and we found that wasn’t the case,” he said. “So I think it’s something we need to really examine at some point.”