No. 5 ROAD: A ring around Indy

INDOT bests airport traffic, construction surprises in time for city’s first Super Bowl

Article October 04, 2013
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In case keeping traffic moving on Indianapolis’ main interstate was not enough pressure, all parties involved with the reconstruction of I-465 were given a firm deadline of Feb. 5, 2012, to complete the $423 million project. It was the day the city would host its first Super Bowl.


Work focused on an 11-mile portion of I-465 on the west side of the city, immediately adjacent to Indianapolis International Airport. “There aren’t many north-south roads on the west side of Indianapolis,” Will Wingfield, public information officer at the Indiana Department of Transportation (INDOT), told ROADS & BRIDGES, “so a lot of traffic uses I-465 as a local street.” This combined with the high volume of airport traffic made increasing capacity and safety the top priorities.


Project elements included replacing pavement; reconfiguring interchanges to make them safer; and adding lanes north- and southbound at various points. Several bridges were reconstructed as well, including the 21st Street Bridge over I-465, which became one of the first with a U-beam design in the state of Indiana.


“Obviously the largest challenge was maintaining up to 100,000 vehicles per day traveling through the work zone,” Wingfield said. Some road and bridge closures were needed, particularly in the early stages. Traffic was temporarily rerouted on I-74, including shifting one of the three lanes to the opposite side of the road to create an express lane.


To keep traffic moving and get the road in good enough shape for the influx of Super Bowl visitors, INDOT implemented an accelerated construction schedule. As one example, crews were able to install a new 206-ft-long culvert for a regulated waterway in under a week by putting in more than 600 ft of trenchless pipe while road construction was still ongoing, creating a proper drainage environment.


Being that close to a major airport carried some burdens of its own. “There were hundreds of FAA permits that needed to be obtained,” Wingfield said. In fact, each piece of equipment needed its own separate permit.


Construction crews received quite a surprise when they were working near the intersection of I-465 and Washington Street—excavation unveiled a group of underground fuel-storage tanks (likely from an old gas station) that no one had known about.


“You never know what you’re going to find with a surface road,” Wingfield admitted. INDOT was able to dig out the old tanks and replace them and limit environmental damage.
Even amidst these challenges, Walsh and INDOT were able to fully reopen this portion of I-465 to traffic in time for the big game. Full construction was completed on Nov. 29, 2012. R&B

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