Carmel drivers brace for US 31 headaches

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A construction project will close the main north-south artery in and out of Carmel for the next eight months. Construction workers will shut down both directions of US 31 between Old Meridian Street and 136th Street in Carmel starting Friday night.

You can't say you haven't been warned - not with all the signs. Like it or not, there's eight months of road work ahead on a two-mile stretch of US 31.

"I think we'll have to figure out what to do this weekend," said Dan McCoy, who lives in one of several developments off Spring Mill. That's already a well-traveled north-south thoroughfare. It's expected to become a popular alternate route.

"That is going to be a disaster. The roundabouts help because the traffic at least flows, but I cannot envision the back-ups there's gonna be," he said.

Friday, McCoy was home for a furniture delivery. He was glad it came today.

While the delivery guys are used to navigating tight corners, they too will have to map out new routes.

Mike Cousins lives down the street. He knows traffic in the area is about to pick up.

"At rush hour I think there will be a long line of cars coming through here," he said.

But he's not too worried. "I'm retired, so my day is whatever I want it to be."

He'll just hit the road at off times. For those who don't have a choice, Carmel Police plan to monitor traffic and look for bottlenecks, adjusting lights to allow for a better flow.

INDOT's Will Wingfield predicts it will take a couple of weeks before people figure out the best way to get around.

"They'll be testing different routes so one day there may be heavy traffic on one route and the next day not as much as people try different routes and see what works best for them," said Wingfield.

McCoy plans to be sitting more, not just on his new chair but in traffic.

"If a lot of people go over on Keystone, then it'll help around here. But I don't think that's gonna happen," he said.

Project details

See a map here, and get project updates.

The posted detour will be along Keystone Avenue and I-465 with access to local businesses and medical facilities made through local streets. Medical patients should contact doctors and facilities to find the best way to access those locations. Traffic will be able to cross 136th Street for access to St. Vincent Hospital during the construction.

US 31 will be closed throughout the spring and summer with an expectation that the work will be completed and the road open by Thanksgiving.

On or after Monday, April 7, crews expect to begin shifting all lanes of US 31 to the east side of the roadway between 169th Street and SR 38. Once this traffic shift is complete, crews will begin construction on the west side of US 31 through the remainder of 2014 and the following restrictions will be in place:

•Southbound US 31 reduced to one lane between SR 38 and SR 32

•Northbound US 31 reduced to one lane between 181st Street and SR 38

•Access to/from 203rd Street at US 31 permanently removed

Once the traffic shift between 169th Street and SR 38 begins, left turns to/from US 31 will only be permitted at the following cross-streets:

•181st Street/Hoover Street

•196th Street

•SR 32

•169th Street

As part of the traffic shift on or after April 7, INDOT plans to install a new flashing yellow left-turn signal on US 31 at the temporary traffic signal at 196th Street. An illustration of the stages of a flashing yellow left-turn arrow is attached. This type of turn signal allows left-turning traffic to yield the right-of-way to oncoming traffic and pedestrians and turn when a suitable gap is available.

National research has shown that the flashing yellow signal is more intuitive for drivers, resulting in fewer crashes and the more efficient movement of traffic at an intersection. The signals are being introduced nationwide and have been adopted by most states.