I-70 reopens an hour ahead of schedule

Many drivers got stuck on the Raymond Street ramp from I-65 at noon.
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Indianapolis - I-70 re-opened at 5:15 pm, about 45 minutes ahead of schedule following an 11-hour closure Thursday.

Many commuters appeared to have heeded the warnings about the closure of I-70 for a beautification project. The project, organized by Eli Lilly and Keep Indianapolis Beautiful, required I-70 to be shut down from I-465 to I-65 from 6:00 am to 6:00 pm.

About 100,000 drivers use that stretch of tarmac daily, and many voiced their protest at the 12-hour inconvenience. The closure, which included I-70's route through the heart of Indianapolis, did lead to back-ups Thursday morning, but not as much chaos as some feared.

At noon at the I-465/I-65 on the south side, traffic was moving smoothly. INDOT officials say overall, they were pleased with the traffic flow Thursday morning and hoped for the same results during the evening commute.

The worst of it came early Thursday on I-65 northbound, which was backed up for miles south of Indianapolis as commuters sought a different way to work. It added twenty minutes to Felicia Howells' trip. She was not pleased.

"I understand that we want to be green, but I think you need to be practical as well," she said.

The sluggish traffic lasted about 90 minutes. Much of I-465 and the rest of Indianapolis' interstate system appeared unaffected by the closing.

"I expected it to be a little more chaotic than it was, and it went really smoothly going through town," said John Zigler, motorist.

I-465 did not appear to be any busier than normal when Eyewitness News' crew took a drive mid-morning.

The Flying J truck stop on the city's south side expected a twenty-percent increase in business from drivers trying to avoid the closure.

"It was easy," said Rich Diercks, truck driver. "I was surprised. I was."

Many commuters either planned alternate routes or changed their plans.

"I kind of stayed at home and waited a little bit for the rush hour to get over with, so I think that helped a lot. There weren't as many people on the road," said Amy Shipp.

The biggest problem we spotted was Raymond Street at I-65 on the near south side. Many drivers were trying to exit there to get around the closure and access downtown, but there were large back-ups at noon.

The highway department says the first crew finished their work 45 minutes early.

Watch Eyewitness News at 5:00 pm for the latest traffic updates.

For more information on the project and detours click here

Answers to some of the most commonly asked questions about this project

What was your commute like this morning? Were you impacted at all? Leave a comment below and share your experience.