As work to create a roundabout at the intersection of 96th Street and Keystone Parkway nears the one year mark, city leaders say the project is still on track to be substantially completed by the end of the year and that it hasn’t led to too many complaints from drivers.
Lane restrictions began June 4, 2018, to transform one of Carmel’s busiest intersections into a roundabout to allow traffic to flow north and south through the city without stopping. Crews have spent much of this year building ramps that will open on or after June 17 for drivers on Keystone Parkway to travel through the intersection as work begins on the next phase of the project. The traffic lights will be removed at this time.
The city announced May 30 that a planned 60-day closure of 96th Street at Keystone Parkway has been increased to 150 days because of unexpected utility delays. The extended closure should allow major portions of the project to wrap up by Dec. 31; otherwise construction could stretch into the summer of 2020. Drivers will be able to make right turns on to 96th Street during the closure.
“(The project) is still on schedule to be completed by the end of this year,” Carmel Mayor Jim Brainard said. “Our contractors and our engineering staff have done a good job. Construction is always full of unknowns.”
For some drivers, the project has not been as disruptive as expected. Michael Strauss, who lives near 106th Street and Keystone Parkway, said the city has done an “excellent job” keeping the road open so far, and he is looking forward to a much improved commute when the project is done.
“Keystone has always had a lot of traffic as well as backups at 96th Street,” he said. “Going north in the evening has created a larger backup during rush hour, but I haven’t noticed any greater backup going south.”
J.D. Miller, who lives in the Brookshire neighborhood, said the project should be worth the inconvenience when complete.
“The overall traffic flow is tolerable,” Miller said. “The biggest problem is drivers moving from a turn lane into a through lane at the light. They use the turn lane to avoid the slower traffic knowing they will have to jump into the other lane.”
Other drivers, such as Maria Demko, are still trying to avoid traveling through the intersection at all costs.
“If I needed to go somewhere that would be down that way I would try and find an alternative,” Demko said.
City Council President Jeff Worrell, whose district includes the project area, said most of the feedback he’s heard has been about vehicles cutting through nearby neighborhoods.
“I haven’t received a whole lot of complaints about frustration about wait times or detours,” he said. “It’s been mostly about additional traffic in some of the neighborhoods, and we all know that will be short-lived.”
Work on the interchange is part of Carmel’s $43 million 96th Street Corridor Improvement Project, which aims to improve traffic flow and access to businesses from the White River to Keystone Parkway. In 2018 the city completed roundabouts on 96th Street and Priority Way at Hazel Dell Parkway, and this summer roundabouts will be built on 96th Street and Gray Road and Delegates Row. The city also plans to build a roundabout west of Keystone Parkway at Haverstick Road that is planned to be constructed this year.