Chesterton Tribune



I-65 / 70 stretch in Indianapolis reopens early

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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 statement.

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.



Posted 10/17/2013