Holiday travelers passing through Indy say traffic unexpectedly light

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INDIANAPOLIS — The rush to get to wherever Thanksgiving might be this year is on. More than 50 million people are expected to hit the road for turkey day.

INDOT is warning travelers about ongoing construction projects to be aware of as the holiday season travel gets into full gear.

Here is a list of current projects INDOT is working on:

  1. North Split Project (Marion County): I-65 through Downtown Indianapolis is closed to traffic. For thru traffic, use the posted detour on I-465. 
    • Market Street will reopen briefly for the Thanksgiving weekend.
    • St. Clair Street is closed through December 3. 
    • Ohio Street is closed through December 3. 
  2. I-69 Finish Line (Morgan, Johnson, Marion Counties): State Road 37 is still closed in Martinsville from S.R. 39 to Morgan Street. 
  3. I-65 and 109th Street (Lake County): Exit closed. Motorists can exit at U.S. 231 and U.S. 30 as a detour.
  4. State Road 28 (Clinton County): EB lanes of SR 28 are CLOSED in Frankfort between McKinley and Jackson St. WB lanes will remain open. The official detour follows I-65 to S.R. 47 to S.R. 39 and back.

Many are expecting travel to be chaotic this year as Thanksgiving gets a little closer to normal after the subdued gatherings in 2020, but travelers we talked to said the roads were surprisingly calm.

”It’s not as bad as I thought it would be. I’ve seen it worse, let’s put it that way,” said John Clark, he, his wife and their dog are headed from Cincinatti to Chicago to spend Thanksgiving with their son.

“Very pleasant surprise,” is how Jennifer Hillman described her traveling experience so far. She is headed from Kentucky to Illinois and made a stop along I-65 in Indianapolis.

Same goes for the traveler we heard from who had to go the farthest distance.

”The roads have been fine, I’ve had no traffic issues whatsoever,” said John Riley. He started the drive from Greenville, South Carolina to Illinois at 7 a.m. Wednesday.

Despite ongoing construction projects from INDOT, Hillman said she hadn’t seen any serious backups.

”Normally there is a ton of construction through Indiana and into Illinois, but so far I haven’t passed any projects that have stopped traffic,” Hillman said.

Some projects even cleared up just in time for the holiday travel.

”70 is now completely open for us in every direction,” said Greg Duda, a spokesperson for the Hancock County 911 Center.

It’s a big break for Duda, his coworkers, first responders and drivers heading East on I-70 passed Greenfield. Construction along the route has been causing an increase in crashes for months now, but Duda said they got word Thursday everything is pretty much finished.

”That should help ease our headaches, as well as our drivers’ headaches, because now they’re going to be able to get through and get through a lot quicker,” he said.

Not everyone was able to stay away from construction complications, though. Konrad Bresin, another Kentuckian headed to Chicago for the holiday, ran into some back ups.

”There were a few spots where it was slowed down with construction, particularly around Indianapolis,” Bresin said.

But even those areas weren’t too bad for the drivers we talked to. For some, it almost seemed too good to be true.

”I was expecting to have my navigation change the routes a number of times because of traffic stopping in different places but it’s not,” Hillman said.

Clark said he’s confident his luck will run out.

”It’s going to slow down, I’m sure,” he said.

Despite travelers we spoke with seeing less traffic than expected, experts are anticipating numbers getting much closer to pre-pandemic levels.

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