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Remaking One of Indiana’s Busiest Intersections

by: Debra Wood
Crews working on the first phase of the Clear Path 465 project.
Crews working on the first phase of the Clear Path 465 project.
Crews added a lane on I-465.
Crews added a lane on I-465.
Crews installing concrete barriers down the median.
Crews installing concrete barriers down the median.
Crews paving I-465 with asphalt.
Crews paving I-465 with asphalt.
Crews install a sign on I-465.
Crews install a sign on I-465.
Crews apply an overlay on the Allisonville bridge deck.
Crews apply an overlay on the Allisonville bridge deck.
The Indiana Department of Transportation’s $435 million Clear Path 465 project will improve safety and traffic operations by increasing the capacity of Interstate 465 and Interstate 69 and is expected to open to traffic by the end of 2025.

“The I-465 and I-69 interchange has not kept pace with significant traffic growth since its original construction nearly 50 years ago,” says Kyleigh Cramer, Public Relations director for INDOT. “The interstate system interchange at I-69 and I-465 on the northeast side of Indianapolis is one of the most heavily traveled in the city and the state of Indiana.”

More than 150,000 vehicle trips take place on I-465 and I-69 on an average day in this suburban area and significant growth has occurred in the area during its lifetime. Backups occur during peak hours and the area has a high volume of crashes. The department has discussed improvements in this area for nearly two decades.

“Existing cloverleaf-style loop ramps have an advisory speed limit of 25 mph, requiring traffic to merge and weave,” Cramer says. This project “will transform the I-69 and I-465 interchanges with high-speed, high-capacity ramps that reduce traffic weaving and merging.”

Local traffic movements will be separated from interstate system ramps, and the project will make improvements to enhance traffic flow.

Two Phased Approach
The first contract is rebuilding and adding lanes to 4.5 miles of I-465 from the White River to Fall Creek. The second contract is expected to begin construction in 2023 to reconfigure the interchange at I-465 and I-69. New ramps will provide direct movements from eastbound I-465 and northbound I-465 to northbound I-69. Binford Boulevard will also be reconstructed to separate local traffic from traffic entering and exiting I-69 and I-465.

“When completed, I-465 will have four mainline through lanes in each direction and auxiliary lanes between interchanges for traffic entering and exiting the interstate,” Cramer says.

Prior to starting the project, INDOT had a pioneer cemetery, dating back to 1841, carefully relocated from along I-69 southbound by experts.

Crews have already completed applying a deck overlay on Allisonville Road bridge over I-465. The INDOT project management team supported by Parsons of Indianapolis engineered the project. The department divided the work into two contracts.

“The first contract is to prepare for the second contract,” Cramer says. “The estimated $435 million project is being funded with a combination of state and federal transportation funds, including a $70 million Infrastructure for Rebuilding America grant awarded in 2021.”

Environmental Issues and Limited Footprint
A tri-venture of E&B Paving of Muncie, Indiana; Rieth-Riley Construction of Goshen, Indiana; and Gradex of Nora, Indiana, received the first contract and began work in spring 2022. The three work out of a joint project office.

Contract one includes rebuilding the I-465 travel lanes on either end of the I-69 interchange, ramp modifications at Allisonville Road, bridge work on the Allisonville Road bridge over I-465, the I-465 bridges over the White River and widening and rehabilitation of the I-465 bridges over East 71st Street. East 71st Street and Castleton Road will be reconstructed and several noise barriers installed, according to INDOT.

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The new lanes are paved with an asphalt base layer under continuously reinforced concrete. The construction team is using universal total stationing. Instead of physical stationing, rovers and prisms provide continuous readings, which are more accurate information for depth, temperature, etc., Cramer says.

The project experienced a few environmental issues. INDOT is using the Indiana Stream and Wetland Mitigation Program to mitigate impacts to a total of 1.84 miles of streams, six acres of wetlands and 20.5 acres of trees. Additionally, INDOT took steps to minimize closure duration for the 71st Street trail by installing a protection system.

One of the bigger challenges has been constructing the project within a limited footprint while maintaining high daily traffic volumes, Cramer says. The department developed a traffic management plan prior to construction starting. During the week, the project team maintains the existing number of traffic lanes on I-465, with nighttime work. During initial phases, the left lane of northbound/westbound I-465 crossed over the median for a temporary express lane for cars only with no access to exits. The temporary express lane and limited long-term ramp closures minimized delays for interstate traffic, Cramer says.

Emergency access is maintained at all times. Plans are in place to respond to incidents if needed. Local officials and emergency responders meet regularly with project leaders. “To keep traffic moving safely through the I-465 work zone, long-term closures of limited local road ramps onto the interstate began in 2022,” Cramer reports.

Limited access points to the work site have meant a variety of operations may be working in the same area, also a challenge at times.

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Supply chain issues also affected the project, which required longer lead times for concrete, steel, panel signs and MSE wall panels.

Cramer and colleagues have kept the public and stakeholders informed about the project through robust outreach efforts. The team also has coordinated with owners of other state and local construction projects.

The second contract was scheduled for letting in December 2022. It will complete work on I-465 inside the interchange and construction on I-69 and collector-distributor roads from I-465 to 86th Street and reconstruction of the two I-69 interchanges at I-465 and 82nd Street, 14 new bridges, construction on Binford Boulevard and the installation of several noise barriers. Work should begin in 2023.

This project “should have a major impact on the driver experience when complete,” Cramer concludes. “Improvements will improve traffic flow and safety.”

Photos courtesy of Clear Path, Indiana Department of Transportation

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