Carmel prepares for six-month closure of US 31

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The traffic headaches are just days away as construction crews create a mess on Meridian St.

US 31 from Old Meridian Street to 136th Street in Carmel will be closed in both directions starting Friday night and will stay closed for six months.

It is always tough to keep a small business going, especially when the major thoroughfare out front of your restaurant is temporarily closing down.

"I think it will be great when it is done. I think it will be good for business; improve our delivery time. But in the meantime we have to deal with the dust," said Jami Santos at the Bellacino's restaurant at 126th and Highway 31.

The east-west crossing at Carmel Drive will remain open until the overpass at 131st Street is complete. There will also be crossings at 116th and 136th Street, which is where St. Vincent Hospital has been preparing for this day.

"Phone calls, emails, We've got a section of our website dedicated how to get to our physicians practices, the Heart Hospital and St Vincent Carmel," said Dan Lareau, St. Vincent.

The north-south recommended alternatives are Illinois to the west of 31. Pennsylvania and Old Meridian to the east will handle local traffic. Keystone will handle through traffic.

If there is a weak link in this plan, with the detours and rerouting to make way for the Highway 31 closure, it would seem to be at the intersection of 96th and Keystone.

"It will be a backup. We hope it is not as bad as it could be. It's going to be a backup at 96th and Keystone regardless of how the light is timed," said Mayor Jim Brainard (R-Carmel).

But the mayor says closing 31 will allow the state to save money and get the project done faster. That's good news at Bellacino's where they are hoping to turn this into an opportunity.

"We are working on putting signs out. Traffic will detour along this road and so if we have a sign out there we might get more people to come in who haven't seen us before," said Santos.

See detour routes, maps and project updates here.

Also, search for #13on31 on Twitter for updates, and let us know about your commute!