Gear up for south split bridge work

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A major road construction project in Indianapolis will have a huge impact on commuters traveling through the downtown area.  The work is set to begin next week, but there are already overnight lane restrictions in place.

The construction zone includes I-65/I-70 between the north and south splits. You will probably be affected even if this section of interstate isn't a part of your daily commute.

This is one of the most heavily-traveled sections of interstate in Indiana, as 100,000 drivers pass through here daily. So when this is shut down, all those cars have to go somewhere. You can bet there will be backups. The key is starting to think about this now rather than wait until next week.

Bridges in this area have been struck a total of 400 times in the past decade or so by tall trucks. INDOT reports that in almost every case, it's been the driver's fault for having too high a load. But the end result is closing the interstate, making repairs, not to mention the potential safety hazard of a crash or flying debris.

So contractors will lower the pavement below seven area bridges, increasing clearance to at least 14 feet 9 inches. 

In most cases we're talking about digging down less than a foot - the easiest and cheapest way to create more clearance. To do this, I-65/70 will shut down for around two months.

"Plan alternate routes," advises INDOT's Nathan Riggs, "possibly two or three alternate routes. Find out how much longer it might take you, and then probably plan a few extra minutes, especially during those first couple of weeks, as other drivers are adjusting their routes."

Already last week, INDOT started making arrangements for the closure by widening some ramps and adjusting for increased traffic on the alternate routes.

"People that might be used to taking a certain route," Riggs says, "might have to take a different route, or take the official detour, which is 465."

The project target is 59 days at a cost of $12.4-million. But there is an incentive to finish early. the contractor gets a bonus of $60,000 for every day they cut from the 59 day target. If it takes longer, the contractor will owe the state $60,000 a day.