I-69 changes in the works


The exit numbers are changing, and the traffic can be a mess on I-69.

If you travel I-69 frequently, you probably get on and off as a matter of habit with no need to check the signs. But if you're giving directions to anyone coming in from out of town, beware, because some of the busiest exits in Hamilton County have new numbers.  In fact, all along I-69 through the state there will be new exit numbers.

As you head north from Indianapolis toward Anderson, Exit 1, for example, is now Exit 201.  But there's also a small sign that says "old Exit 1."  This is meant to clarify for anyone who may be looking at an old map or using an older navigation system. It will probably take years for the online systems to catch up. That's why they signs with the old exit numbers will remain in place for up to three years. 

Some businesses do list an exit number on their letterhead, and that will need to change.  Most business owners we spoke with say it's not that big of a deal because they list their street name when giving directions.  

Why the new exit numbers?  It has to do with the extension of I-69 toward Evansville.  Right now, Exit 5 is actually the 5 mile marker.  But once I-69 is complete from Evansville, 'old' 5 will be the 205 mile marker. Indiana is making the change to follow guidelines set by the U.S. Dept of Transportation. 

Anyone who travels the area knows that the interstate can look like a parking lot each morning.  It's simply a bottleneck, with too many vehicles in too small an area.  There is an effort to alleviate the congestion, but that's taking months.

Changes to the northbound lanes are underway.  That includes increasing the number of exit lanes at 116th Street from two to three. 

A new exit bridge for traffic entering State Road 37 is also under construction, adding to congestion now.  But it is necessary, officials say in Hamilton County - the fastest-growing county in the state. 

The population increase means more customer traffic at businesses like Bella's Blooms, a flower shop which relocated to 116th Street less than a year ago. 

"We're probably doing four times what we were doing at the other location," said Chuck Eaglin of Bella's. "So it's been a great location, but anything along 116th Street up in this area is growing so fast up here in Fishers - there's just a lot of people."

Construction will continue for the foreseeable future and will last into 2013.

The upside comes when all of the construction is finished, making for a much smoother commute.