---- — INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Thousands of Indianapolis commuters are bracing for big disruptions as highway crews are scheduled to close a stretch of Interstates 65 and 70 in the city’s downtown early Tuesday for an expected two-month project.
Crews will lower pavement under seven bridges that have been hit repeatedly by oversized semi loads. The section will be closed to through traffic effective 12:01 a.m. Tuesday, although some exit and entrance ramps will remain open. The closure is meant to complete the $12.4 million project by the end of October, according to the Indiana Department of Transportation.
The agency reports there have been more than 400 bridge strikes since 1999 in the section, which carries an average of 109,000 vehicles a day.
“We’ve had a persistent, repeating and continuous problem of oversized loads, trucks with heights of 13 feet 6 inches or greater, using this downtown route and striking these bridges,” agency spokesman Nathan Riggs told The Indianapolis Star.
The project will increase the bridge clearance to at least 14 feet, 9 inches.
Bridge strikes are a serious hazard, Riggs said, damaging the structures and sending debris flying onto the pavement. One strike in February fractured a beam supporting one of the bridges, causing emergency repairs that shut down north I-65 and east I-70 for a couple of days.
Through traffic is being detoured to Interstate 465 around the city, but many motorists heading downtown will have to take new routes.
Rob Hoverman told the Daily Journal it typically takes him a half-hour to make the drive from his home in Franklin to his downtown office.
“I would suspect just knowing the way we function around here, it’s probably going to double the commute if things get backed up,” he said.