INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – It's caused heated conversations over the last year. The Indiana Department of Transportation, or INDOT, has been getting public input about a construction project at the I-65/I-70 North Split.
In 2017, INDOT revealed details about upcoming work on the Interstate. The hope was to reduce congestion and improve safety. One idea suggested was surface level boulevards and depressed roadways that would almost look like tunnels.
There was one proposal though neighbors nearby really disliked. That proposal called for a rebuild of the North Split along its current lines with added lanes and an expanded footprint to reduce congestion and improve safety.
After listening to public input for months, INDOT released a new plan for the North Split that would not add through lanes. It would also replace bridges and pavement, improve safety at the most hazardous locations in the project area and remove two major bottlenecks on the west leg. The alternative project would cost an estimated $225-$275 million.
More information on INDOT’s preliminary preferred alternative and an electronic version of the alternatives screening report can be found online at northsplit.com.
The North Split is nearly 50 years old, so Scott Manning, a spokesperson for INDOT, said this interchange is in need of an upgrade. More than 200,000 vehicles travel on it every day.
"There are about 32 bridges in this project area that will be replaced or rehabilitated," said Manning.
Residents in the St. Joseph neighborhood, which is just blocks away from the interstate, were concerned with adding lanes to the interchange.
"We were concerned about noise, impacting walk ability, the ability to attract business to downtown," said Tammie Hildreth, a resident.
Hildreth has been living in the historic St. Joseph neighborhood for four years, where Rethink 65/70 signs line the streets. Business owners also opposed the idea because they want the area to keep growing.
"Changing the whole basically look of the neighborhood and just the feel of it," said Sam Scott, owner of English Ivy's Pub.
Both now support this new plan. Manning said the community's input resonated with them.
In addition to reducing traffic, INDOT is working to improve safety at the most dangerous spots. Manning said they see about 300 accidents a year at the North Split.
"The frequency of accidents is about two times the average around the state on our interstate system," he said.
INDOT will host a public open house on Wednesday, October 10 from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. at Arsenal Technical High School to describe the process of evaluating alternatives and the results of its analysis. Public comment on the alternatives screening report will be accepted through Monday, October 29.
Following conclusion of the 30-day public comment period, INDOT will continue to accept community input as the environmental review process moves forward. Preliminary design is expected to begin in 2019 and construction is anticipated to begin in 2020.