PENDLETON, Ind. - State highway officials are working on plans to add lanes to a busy section of Interstate 69 between Indianapolis and Anderson.
The Indiana Department of Transportation's proposal would add a third travel lane to both northbound and southbound I-69 in a 14-mile stretch from the Indiana 37 interchange in Fishers to Indiana 38 near Pendleton. The highway now has three lanes from Interstate 465 in Indianapolis for about 5 miles to near the Indiana 37 interchange.
The General Assembly is currently considering a bill that would provide money for the estimated $79 million project to move forward, highway agency spokesman Harry Maginity told The Herald Bulletin .
"We anticipate the funding to be approved," he said. "There are a number of projects that are all adding lanes to interstates where there is congestion."
The highway department is looking to accept contract bids in October, with construction work on the additional lanes starting next year for completion in late 2016 or early 2017.
Jerry Bridges, executive director of the Madison County Council of Governments, said the widening of the interstate to three lanes would offer a big improvement for drivers.
State officials say the project would lessen congestion in the highway's stretch northeast of Indianapolis, along with limiting the time when maintenance work would reduce I-69 to a single lane of traffic.
The highway department has scheduled a public hearing for Feb. 24 at the Anderson Public Library to answer questions and receive comments about the I-69 project.
Traffic jams have long plagued the section of I-69 just north of Indianapolis, which averages more than 100,000 vehicles a day. The state has undertaken several projects in recent years to relieve the bottlenecks by adding lanes and upgrading interchanges.
Maginity said improvement projects are also being planned at the I-69 interchanges for Indiana 238 near Noblesville and Indiana 9 on the south side of Anderson.
The I-69 work north of Indianapolis comes as construction continues on the extension of I-69 through southern Indiana to have the highway connect Indianapolis and Evansville.