Indiana to reconstruct downtown north split of I-65, I-70

A presentation on Sept. 19, 2017, shows the I-65/I-70 North Split Reconstruction Project at the office of design firm HTNB on Monument Circle in Indianapolis. (WISH Photo)

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — The busiest interchange in the state is getting a major makeover.

Indiana Department of Transportation announced plans Tuesday to reconstruct the downtown north split where interstates 70 and 65 intersect.

Right now, INDOT is still in the planning phase.

The project won’t begin until late 2019 at the earliest and maybe as late as 2021. INDOT estimated the cost around $250 million and said it’s fully funded through the Next Level Roads Plan, which is partly funded by tax increases including a fuel tax increase.

On average, about 170,000 vehicles pass through the north split each day. The interchange was built 50 years ago. The average shelf life of a comparable interchange is up to 75 years. But, according to INDOT Commissioner Joe McGuinness, the north split has reached its limit due to the heavy traffic.

“Safety, capacity and the integrity of the entire stretch is extremely important as we’re going forward,” McGuinness said.

Seth Schickel is the lead designer on the project. The interchange’s 32 bridges will be reconstructed, repaired or widened, he said. I-65 ramps along 11th and 12th streets would be reconfigured to cut down on congestion. The existing road will be reconstructed to accommodate future lanes. Schickel told people to expect a different interchange.

“What literally will look different is the bridges will be in different places and the ramps, you may have an exit that’s maybe a little sooner or later than you are accustomed to. But again, you’ll be able to have all the same access points,” he said.

In early 2018, public meetings will be held. Right now, McGuinness said, they’re focusing on an environmental study and preliminary designs.