CARMEL, Ind. — It was once rated one of the worst intersections in all of Indiana, but after three years of construction, the interchange project at 96th Street and Keystone Avenue is complete.
The $28.7 million project removed the traffic light at one of the city’s most congested and dangerous intersections.
Drivers will now be able to drive up and down Keystone Avenue without stopping and use the roundabout under the bridge to go left on 96th Street.
“What we’re celebrating today is the final piece of the Keystone Parkway project,” Carmel Mayor, Jim Brainard said at a Monday ribbon-cutting ceremony.
“It’s been a great safety improvement and it moves cars so much better,” Brainard said. “Keystone no longer functions as a great wall between the eastern part of Carmel and the central part of Carmel.”
Construction on the interchange took its toll on nearby businesses. Mark Hume, General Manager of Tom Wood Ford said he believes in the long-term benefits of the new interchange, despite the disruption to his dealership’s business.
“They took away 120 parking spots, which is kind of tough,” Hume said. “There was a couple days where we didn’t have an entrance. But, again, they communicated well with us.”
Across 96th Street, Cat Care Clinic of Indianapolis Hospital Manager, Amber Bowlin said she was not happy with Carmel’s communication during construction.
“Nothing was well marked the whole time they were doing it, they would change things up without telling anyone, we wouldn’t even know when things would change,” Bowlin said. “So we did lose some business just because our regular clients just found it too hard to get here.”
Bowlin said she is hopeful business will start to pick up again with the interchange now open to traffic.
“We did lose some of our regular clients just because the older folks, they find it a little harder to get through here when construction’s bad,” she said. “So hopefully, they’ll start coming back.”
The work isn’t done just yet. Brainard says crews still have some aesthetic work and landscaping around the interchange to do. Another layer of new pavement is also scheduled to be put down once the weather warms up in the Spring.
“It’s important for the long term,” Brainard said. “It’s important for the continued success of this area that traffic be able to move in and out quickly, safely and efficiently.”