FISHERS, Ind. — The busiest street in town, 116th, was closed for approximately 46 days, when it was supposed to be shut down for 60.
The closure allowed for several improvements to be made on the road both above and below it.
“We’re digging a tunnel that’s 15 plus feet deep,” Fishers Director of Engineering Jason Taylor said. “There are so many different things that this brings to the city as another asset and amenity for experience.”
When it comes to cities in Hamilton County, it’s all about the experience… and Fishers is no different.
“The whole purpose of this tunnel is so that we can bring an area of experience for people and users. We’re gonna have a seating area that we’re gonna have some maybe live music playing at various times,” Taylor said. “We’re gonna it on both sides actually so we’re really trying hard to make sure that this area of downtown is you wanna come down, you wanna be there for a long period of time and hang out.”
The tunnel which runs below 116th Street, which is now partially open with one lane moving in each direction, was built beneath what had been, a rail bed, it will soon be the Nickel Plate Trail, running right through downtown Fishers. If you think it reminds you of the Monon Trail running through downtown Carmel, you’re right.
“We met with Carmel, their city engineer, their parks department, and we actually walked and rode the bicycles along the trail all the way from to 96th street through their northern downtown limits to see what struggles they’ve had, lessons learned,” Taylor said. “What can we take away… and we tried to incorporate some of those things into this design here.”
Local businesses in Fishers are certainly glad they did.
“There’s a lot of foot traffic now in Fishers with everything new going up so people are just walking around,” Greek’s Pizzeria Manager Sarah Shipley said. “With all the new apartments people walk over so we’ve had a lot of like outdoor business and a lot of walk-in business recently.”
On top of the new attractions nearby, Shipley says the quick construction of 116th Street also helped them make more money this summer – rather than lose it to detours.
“I think maybe like that first week or two people thought that we just weren’t open at all cause this whole place was blocked off,” Shipley said. “But otherwise, I think we’ve stayed busy, I think it’s been nice to have that like, community support.”
The community experience, the city hopes to build with the tunnel beneath it, unlike the road above, may take a bit longer to build…
“So, there’s some experience that’s gonna be added now, as what you’ve seen in this renderings,” Taylor said. “But then some of the more elaborate plans, they’re kinda pie in the sky, we hope for it, but no timetable at the moment but what we’ve done is we’ve put the infrastructure in now to be able to allow when funding is available to be able to add it in with very minimal disruption to what we are installing today.”
All lanes of 116th Street are expected to be opened around August first. The tunnel project beneath the road will be completed spring of 2022.