NO. 1 ROAD: Helping a Community

Dec. 10, 2022
The I-69 Finish Line was involved in the community

The I-69 Finish Line was 75-years in the making, to connect Evansville to Indianapolis, Indiana through over 142 miles of interstate. The final 26-mile section was divided up by the Indiana Department of Transportation into six contracts, with the second contract focusing on 6 miles of State Road 37 in Martinsville. The second contract was the only contract that had to remove an existing highway that passed through a city and replace it with an interstate.

The existing route that ran through Martinsville included numerous access points, served multiple businesses in the city, and was heavily used, proving to be a crucial road in the city. Coordination between the Indiana Department of Transportation and Martinsville was crucial, and they decided to fully close the road during construction, ensuring the safety of workers and motorists. This saved approximately one-year of construction but necessitated the creation of a detour for traffic.

Communication was a huge factor for this project, extending communications to surrounding businesses and Indiana University to ensure the project limited its impact to those who regularly used the state road. Issues arose when a new mayor was elected, being unfamiliar with the I-69 project. The project team had to engage in educating the new administration about the project’s background and upcoming activities.

The reconstruction of State Road 37 and the widening of State Road 39 required a reevaluation of the stormwater drainage patterns in the area. Increasing the impervious areas would increase the vulnerability of flooding in Martinsville. To circumvent this, the team relocated and expanded Sartor Ditch to allow storm water to drain from the city faster.

Tim Miller, Sr. Project Manager talked about the challenges with storm water management. He said, “Stormwater management was one of the most difficult design challenges to address. The city of Martinsville’s own nickname is the “Artesians” because of the abundance and quality of groundwater. In fact, Martinsville was home to the largest goldfish hatcheries in the world during the early 1900s because the ground water quality allowed outside fish farms to exist. Within the city of Martinsville, the majority of stormwater runoff is conveyed by Sartor Ditch, a county-regulated drain.”

Converting the four-lane highway into an interstate highway cause significant interruptions to existing utility lines along the roadway. A minimum of 16 utility companies were required to move lines located along State Road 37. Water and sewer utility lines had no tracer, however, and were difficult to locate. Subsurface utility engineering was conducted to find the lines, which entailed drilling holes to achieve a high confidence level in utility locations.

Despite the challenges, the project crew overcame them, and saw the project through. Contract 2 included 11 new bridges. The new I-69 bridges over State Road 252 and the roadway leading up to them were being built in part of the 6-mile area. To build the bridges, large EPS blocks were placed within the embankment leading up to the bridges. The EPS blocks reduced the expected settlement, speeding up settlement time, and enabling construction to be completed within the closure period.

Since building an interstate highway through a community is uncommon, the project team gave specific attention to creating community cohesiveness in the 1.4 miles of noise barriers that were constructed throughout the project. Comparing brick samples to the brick used on the Morgan County Courthouse in Martinsville, they replicated it on the noise walls. Gateway monuments reminiscent of the Courthouse Clock Tower were constructed inside State Road 44 and State Road 39 interchanges.

The project opened to traffic on time on December 21, 2021. The community embraced the improved safety, mobility, and economic opportunity the project has afforded in the short time it has been open. This project is a testament to the many years of planning by hundreds of engineers, planners, and the community it resides in. R&B

Project: I-69 Finish Line, Contract 2

Location: Indianapolis, Indiana

Owners: Indiana Department of Transportation

Designer: HNTB Corporation

Contractor: Walsh Construction

Cost: $164 million

Length: 6 miles

Completion Date: December 2021

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