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I-65 Closes Sunday. #I65Sucks

Two crucial sections of I-65 to close on July 1st, leaving commuters scrambling to find other ways into Indianapolis.

Starting July 1st, I-65 will close in two very inconvenient places, making life difficult for those commuting to downtown Indianapolis. We’re talking wholesale changes to traffic patterns that will affect both the interstates and our already difficult to navigate city streets. This is a bridge rehab project, kind of like the one on the southside at the I-465/I-65 interchange, except this is MUCH shorter in construction duration.

Both I-65 closures will happen at the same time and last 35-days. Here they are:

  • On the northwest side (Pike Township), southbound I-65 will close at the I-465 interchange.
  • I-65 will close in BOTH DIRECTIONS from Meridian St/Penn to 21st St.

In this blog, we’ll break down each closure and provide detours around the city. In the meantime, hit me up on Twitter with any questions @WIBCTraffic using the hashtag #65Sucks.

Seems more than appropriate.


PIKE TOWNSHIP

Bad, bad, and bad for Boone County to downtown commuters. 

If you live in Lebanon and take southbound I-65 through the I-465 interchange (not I-865, just I-465) during your morning commute, then get ready for a big fat reroute. 

Southbound I-65 will close at the I-65/I-465 interchange on the northwest side. 

In other words, you cannot continue on southbound I-65 through the I-465 interchange. You will be forced to reroute on I-465

Northbound I-65 will remain OPEN through the I-465 interchange. The closure is on the southbound side only.

Take a look:

I-65 Closure

(Photo credit: INDOT)


DOWNTOWN

(Deep breath)

I-65 in BOTH DIRECTIONS -as in all northbound and southbound lanes - will close from 21st St. to the Meridian St/Pennsylvania St. (exit 113) during the exact same time that southbound I-65 in Pike Township closes. Why do both at the same time? According to Lamar Holliday - Media Relations Director at the Indiana Department of Transportation - the seven bridge rehabilitation project can be completed faster by working on the two stretches as one project instead of creating intermittent closures.

How does this work?

During the 35-day construction project, southbound I-65 commuters will be forced off at the 21 St. exit, with the next available option to re-enter southbound I-65 at the Meridian St./Penn on-ramp.

Northbound I-65 commuters will be forced off at the Meridian St./Pennsylvania off-ramp, with the next available option to re-enter northbound I-65 at the 21st St on-ramp.

There will also be a series of ramps closing between Meridian St./Pennsylvania and 21st St. The complete list is just below:

Behold:

I-65 into the north split

(Photo credit: INDOT)

RAMPS CLOSING (six total)

W. 21st Street

I-65 southbound on-ramp to 21st St.

I-65 northbound off-ramp to 21st St..

West Street

I-65 southbound and northbound off-ramps to West St.

West St. on-ramps to southbound and northbound I-65.

Downtown

Illinois St/W. 12th St. on-ramp to northbound I-65.

I-65 southbound off-ramp to Meridian St/Pennsylvania St.

RAMPS OPEN

I-65 southbound off-ramp to 21st St.

I-65 northbound on-ramp to 21st St.

I-65 northbound off-ramp to Meridian St/Pennsylvania St.

Delaware St/11th St. on-ramp to southbound I-65.

 

Make sense so far?

Suzanne


FINISH LINE

So when does this potential traffic calamity  start and stop? Both sections of I-65 - weather permitting - will close on July 1st and reopen on August 5th.

Now, the biggest question: what does this do to traffic, and how do I get around?

Let's dig in.


REROUTES:

Oh, the humanity! These closures are going to drop a nuclear bomb on the commute from the northwest side to downtown. Below, you’ll find ideas on navigating around the closures using the interstates. These detours only add a few miles to your drive, but the wiser commuter will factor in the additional traffic that’s pushed onto I-865, I-465, and I-70 due to the construction:

Detour

(Photo credit: INDOT)

This map - provided by the Indiana Department of Transportation - defines several reroutes from the northwest side to downtown. Let's take a look at each one.

*For simplicity sake, the northwest side will simply be represented by Lebanon, the county seat of Boone Co. Also, all mileage estimates are just that - estimates.


LEBANON TO 21st St. DETOUR

Lebanon to 21st

Usual Route: 15 miles

Detour: 18 miles

This reroute will add a few extra miles for drivers whose destination is the near northside, and who use I-65 to access different sections north of downtown. Expect a normally quiet eastbound I-865 and southbound I-465 to get stuffy during the morning commute.  


LEBANON TO DOWNTOWN DETOUR

Lebanon to Downtown

Usual Route: 17 miles

Detour: 19 miles

Two more miles and a reroute through the lovely west side is in store for commuters looking to access the southern quadrant of downtown. Traffic on eastbound I-70 could really get ugly, as it tends to fill up during both the morning and evening commutes without the additional traffic.


LEBANON TO SOUTHPORT DETOUR

Lebanon to Southport

Usual Route: 24 miles

Detour: 27 miles

For the unlucky few that make the commute from the northwest side to the south side, this is going to be a real bummer. Good, bad, or ugly, only three miles will be added to the commute, but as mentioned, that can really add up with the rest of the northwest side rerouting.

As you’ve noticed, all of these reroutes include eastbound I-865. It could get awfully girthy through that stretch of southern Boone Co.


DOWNTOWN TO LEBANON DETOUR

Downtown to Lebanon

At first glance, it looks as if leaving downtown Indy is much easier than coming down. Once you access northbound I-65 via one of the open on-ramps, it's a straight shot to Boone Co. However, these ramps are going to get busy, as outbound commuters will be making a mad dash to anything north and including 21st St.

By the way, if you're making a run to the 30th or 38th St. on-ramps, don't forget about this little detour:

Meridian Closure

You remember this guy, right? The infamous Meridian St. closure from 28th St. to 30th St for the DigIndy project? This detour - while small in area - could slow you down as you head out of town. Try one of the northbound one-ways in your quest for northbound I-65, like Illinois (which WILL be busy).


EAST SIDE TO NORTH SIDE OR DOWNTOWN DETOURS

I-70 Reroute

I you're a Greenfield to downtown commuter, you have a few choices in navigating the closure.

  • If you wish to continue on northbound I-65 to the northwest side, exit at Meridian St/Penn (you kind of have to) or earlier (like Rural/Keystone), make your way to the 21st on-ramp, and re-enter northbound I-65.
  • If you're commute from Greenfield takes you to downtown Indy, grab the center lane of inbound I-70 entering the north split (the signage reads Fletcher Ave./Michigan St./New York St). This will take you into the "collector" - or local ramp of southbound I-65/I-70. Choose your exit, and exit!

CITY STREET DETOURS

Streets to Downtown

If you'd prefer to avoid to venture on to the city streets, you can always detour using Michigan Rd., Lafayette Rd, or Crawfordsville Rd. See the corresponding map above!


Finally, be prepared for anything Monday - the first day of morning rush. Tens of minutes could be added to your commute, and if it's particlarly hot, pack some water in case your engine quits or bust a tire. Believe it or not, I hear there are potholes out there.

Perish the thought.

Again, tweet at @WIBCTraffic with ANY questions or concerns you have about the closures. Anything at all, send it to us: stories, ideas, weirdness, dumb driving - any of that. Use the hashtag #I65Sucks so everyone can chime in with advice, etc.

Thankfully, it's only a month...

Best of luck. 

-Bair


Matt Bair believes the Lebanon rest station has nothing on the Plainfield rest station, because Cheetos. He is the new voice of Indianapolis traffic, and can be followed on Twitter @WIBCTraffic. Tips? Call direct at (317) 684-8134 or the 93 WIBC Newsroom at (317) 637-6397.

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