MORGAN COUNTY – The latest phase of the I-69 Finish Line project is expected to cause a major traffic change south of Indianapolis on Monday morning.
INDOT officials expect to move all southbound traffic on State Road 37 to the northbound lanes of the highway between SR 144 and Morgan Street in Martinsville. Traffic on the northbound side of 37 will be restricted to one lane in each direction, separated by a concrete barrier, which is nearly complete.
Moving traffic off the southbound lanes will allow contractors to begin the process of tearing out southbound SR 37.
“Once we get all that pavement out of there, the existing bridges out of there, we’ll start creating those lanes of I-69,” said INDOT Spokesperson, Natalie Garrett. “A complete reconstruction.”
Drivers coming south from Johnson County will be merged from the right side of the highway to the left side at the intersection of SR 37 and SR 144.
“There will be barricades, barrels, the concrete barrier to kind of guide traffic through to get where they need to go over to the northbound side,” Garrett said.
Work in the southbound lanes of 37 is expected to last until Summer, when traffic will then shift to the other side of the highway and reconstruction begins in the northbound lanes. Overall restrictions between Johnson County and Martinsville are expected to last for most of 2021.
Through drivers who don’t need to stop between SR 144 and Martinsville are encouraged to use the detour that was posted when a five mile stretch of 37 was closed through Martinsville several weeks ago. The detour uses SR 144, SR 67 and SR 39 to avoid the major work zones.
“It will allow people to completely avoid this one-lane traffic in each direction,” Garrett said.
Ronald Roundtree has been using the detour for several weeks in order to drive from Bargersville to his job in Bloomington. He said the detour works fine for him, but it still adds time to his commute.
“I used to get to work in about 45 minutes, now it’s about an hour and five minutes,” Roundtree said. “So I’m leaving my now at like 10:15, 10:30 just to get to work at 12 noon.”
INDOT officials are asking drivers to be patient as commuters get used to the single-lane restrictions and narrow lanes.
“It might seem a little cramped at first for people who are adjusting to the new configuration,” Garrett said.
Truck driver, Sylvester Willcox is expecting plenty of congestion in the area once the traffic crossover happens.
“If it’s one lane, and plus when people start getting off of work, it is hard to get places,” Wilcox said. “It’s going to be tight. Be patient, drive safe, and you’ll get where you’re going.”
Once this phase of the project is complete near the end of the year, main line work through Johnson County is expected to begin in 2022. The $1.5 billion I-69 Finish Line project is slated for completion in late 2024 after the interstate connects with I-465.
You can read more and stay up to date on the I-69 Finish Line Project website.