INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — The stretch of Interstates 65 and 70 through downtown
Indianapolis has reopened after closing in early September so that the
roadway could be lowered under seven bridges.
Crews started opening lanes Wednesday night and completely opened the
highway early Thursday, beating the completion deadline by 15 days.
Highway officials said the work was needed because beams under the bridges
had been hit repeatedly by oversized semitrailer loads. The project raised
the clearance at bridges from a low as 13 feet, 6 inches to clearances of
at least 14 feet, 9 inches.
Gov. Mike Pence said he appreciated the hard work of the state highway
department and contractors to complete the project ahead of schedule.
The closure since Sept. 3 forced major changes in commuter patterns
without the section which state officials said carried an average of
109,000 vehicles a day.
"Closing interstate highways is hard on everybody," Pence said in a
The contractor on the $12 million project is eligible for a $60,000-a-day
bonus for each day it beat the Oct. 31 completion deadline. That incentive
payment could amount to up to $900,000 with Thursday's opening, said
Nathan Riggs, a state highway department spokesman.
The highway agency reported been more than 400 bridge strikes since 1999
in the half-mile section on the eastern edge of the city's downtown.
Those strikes sometimes damaged the structures and sent debris flying onto
the pavement. One strike in February fractured a beam supporting one of
the bridges, causing emergency repairs that shut down northbound I-65 and
eastbound I-70 for a couple days.