Carmel Mayor Proposes U.S. 31 Quick-Fix Plan

Closing Corridor During Construction Would Be More Efficient, Brainard Says

A new plan to speed up construction on U.S. Highway 31 in Hamilton County could put the brakes on a popular commute for tens of thousands of drivers.

On any given day, transportation officials said 44,000 vehicles travel up and down U.S. 31, but Hamilton County crews are working to convert all four lanes from 116th Street to Keystone Parkway into a free-flowing expressway, void of traffic lights.

Carmel Mayor Jim Brainard said the construction process will go a lot faster if all lanes of U.S. 31 were completely shut down during the project, RTV6's Derrik Thomas reported.

"Trying to do this under traffic conditions in many ways multiplies the cost of doing it when it’s closed. The safety of the workers is important, too,” Brainard said.

Indiana Department of Transportation spokesman Will Wingfield said the construction will likely begin in 2014, but INDOT wants to talk with businesses along the corridor that could be affected if U.S. 31 was shut down.

"The intent is to do the work sometime in 2014 to 2015. A lot of those details haven't been worked out yet. We continue to have discussions with the local communities to make sure our plans correspond with theirs,” Wingfield.

Law firm Wagner, Reese and Crossen, located at 119th and Meridian streets, is on board with the hyper-fix approach.

"It's certainly going to be painful in the short term. But as a business right on (U.S.) 31, we'd rather have them do it sooner than later, instead of stretching it out for a disruption over a longer period of time,” attorney Steve Wagner said.

Tom Kirk owns John Kirk Furniture, a business in the 12000 block of Old Meridian Street, and said he’s not too enthused about the construction plans.

“I think it will dramatically affect businesses, and they might not be here by the time its finished,” Kirk said.

The Chamber of Commerce said it supports the hyper-fix approach.

Residents will have a chance to weigh in on the construction changes at Carmel High School during a formal presentation. The meeting will take place at 5 p.m. on March 29.

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