I-70 Closure Is Not A Game
(Photo Credit: Eric Berman, WIBC News)
All week, the I-70 closure - a premier stretch of interstate linking Indianapolis International Airport to downtown - has pushed an unholy amount of traffic to parts unknown, forcing commuters to use a side street through the city or slog through the barely moving parking lot known as I-465. Not ideal, especially with one of Indy’s premier conventions in town - Gen Con.
Here's me at it 3 years ago:
But, Gen Con is not the first convention to endure a major interstate closure this year. In May, the NRA Annual Meeting brought 90,000 2nd Amendment enthusiasts to our city, while tens of thousands of Hoosiers dealt with multiple closures during the Black Expo Summer Celebration. We’ve also had a ton of rain during the spring months, which backed up the INDOT construction schedule.
I’m just saying while It sucks gamers have this significant inconvenience, no one - as in all of Indy - has been spared by this deranged construction season. Come Fall, we’re all going to need a healthy dose of shock therapy. It’ll make us bark at the moon, but at least we’ll forget about the interstates for a minute - or eternity.
Hopefully, the roads will feel great on our wheels and bottoms when they're done. It should be worth it in the end.
Onward. Let’s start with the closure then check out the reroutes.
I-70 IS CLOSED
The stretch of I-70 from the airport to the south split (a downtown interchange that merges I-70 with I-65) is closed in both directions through Gen Con. The loss of this essential east-west corridor has absolutely obliterated morning and evening rush:
I-70 is scheduled to reopen this coming Monday (8/5), which obviously does nothing for our inbound Gen Con gamers. In this case, those heading downtown to Indiana Convention Center need to apply Indianapolis 500 traffic rules - leave early, play it safe (for the uninitiated, the Indianapolis 500 brings in over one-hundred thousand people to the metro area, making traffic brutal race morning. Therefore the “leave early”).
Once you leave early, you’ll need an alternate route because of the I-70 closure, and the fine folks at Gen Con are on it:
Plan your route to Gen Con!— Gen Con (@Gen_Con) July 30, 2019
There will be several road closures this year, but the city will have signs posted along the highway. Everyone will be able to get to their hotels & the ICC, but plan for an extra 10-15 min. Latest updates on the closures: https://t.co/xokNO1deJe pic.twitter.com/RvcFX1hUoy
Problem. While allowing yourself an extra 10-15 minutes of travel time is a fine idea, we have to consider the high volume of traffic on the south side of I-465 because of the I-70 closure. This could add tens of minutes to your travel time, especially during peak rush.
Here’s a look at the southwest side of I-465 at its worst during afternoon commute:
(Photo Credit: INDOT)
Ugh. The map shows southbound/eastbound I-465 packed from Rockville Rd/U.S. 36 to Mann Rd. - or just shy of Harding St. Speeds of 5 mph have been reported:
The east side? Not any better, but drivers coming in from the east have the part of I-70 that’s actually open. It shouled be a pretty decent ride into downtown if the congestion is low.
Plan ahead, and be weary if you’re swinging around I-465 on any south side section. In short, it’s a hot mess.
With around 65,000 people coming into Indianapolis for @Gen_Con think about some alternate routes you can take to get downtown. Don't get stuck in traffic. @VisitIndy— INDOT East Central (@INDOTEast) July 30, 2019
There are ways around I-70, and the people at @INDOTEast have provided several reroutes for drivers coming to downtown from the west side:
(Photo Credit: @INDOTEast)
- Take Ronald Reagan Pkwy north to U.S. 40 (Washington St.), travel east on U.S. 40 (Washington St.) to downtown Indianapolis
- Take I-465 north to U.S. 40 (Washington St.), travel east on Washington St. to downtown Indianapolis
- Take I-465 north to Sam Jones Expressway, follow Sam Jones Expressway east to Harding St. (Sam Jones Expressway will become Raymond St. east of Holt Rd.), travel north on Harding St. to Washington St., travel east on Washington St. to downtown Indianapolis
*Editor’s note: Since the I-70 closure began, Sam Jones Expw./Raymond St. from I-70 to I-65 turns into a heavy hitter during rush hour, complete with traffic jams and the occasional crash. Use caution if navigating this stretch of road.
- Take I-465 north to U.S. 36 (Rockville Rd.), travel east on Rockville to Washington St., travel east on Washington St. to downtown Indianapolis
- Take I-465 south to S.R. 67 (Kentucky Ave.), travel north on Kentucky Ave. to Harding St., travel north on Harding St. to Washington St., travel east on Washington St. to downtown Indianapolis
- From West of Indianapolis International Airport to Downtown Indianapolis
- From I-70 east, take exit 66 for S.R. 267 (Quaker Blvd.), follow Quaker Blvd. (S.R. 267) north to U.S. 40 (Washington St.), follow Washington St. east to downtown Indianapolis.
Other traffic observations:
- Both directions of U.S. 36/Rockville Rd. and U.S. 40/Washington St. have been extra busy from I-465 (west side) to Ronald Reagan Pkwy. since the closure.
- If you’re leaving Gen Con during evening rush, use caution if taking southbound I-65/70 from the north split to the south split (accessible via Washington St.). It jams up during peak rush hour in the afternoon.
- Expect the unexpected. Closures exclusive to the weekend begin at 9pm Friday night. Have a passenger watch out for INDOT electronic road signs that hang above the interstate. They’ll tell you what’s up.
Good luck, have fun, and be safe in work zones with lane restrictions. We've had a ton accidents this summer involving drivers mashing slow to stopped traffic in areas where speed is reduced because of construction. We don't need anymore of that. Nope.
Next week: Get ready, because I-465 is closing on the southeast side, because it's Indianapolis and CONSTRUCTION SEASON NEVER ENDS AHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!
Matt Bair 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.