U.S. 31 Overhaul Work To Complicate Commutes

$600M Project Will Create Freeway

Big traffic changes are coming to U.S. 31 in Hamilton County, where business owners and residents got a first look at plans for the $600 million construction project Wednesday.

A 13-mile stretch of the roadway, from Interstate 465 to State Road 38, will be converted into a freeway, eliminating 13 stoplights along the way, 6News' Derrik Thomas reported.

"It's gonna bring U.S. 31 up to freeway standards. The access is going to be interchanges and you are going to have nonstop thoroughfare through this entire corridor," said Harry Maginity, spokesman for the Indiana Department of Transportation.

INDOT held a public open house Wednesday evening at Westfield Middle School to show off preliminary renderings.

Officials said any construction headaches will be made up for by a more efficient thoroughfare.

"Obviously, when you take up pavement and when you alter the landscape you are going to alter the traffic pattern and some people are going to be slowed down," said INDOT spokesman Harry Maginity. "There are going to be some detours, and there's going to be some closures. People are going to be impacted, and people are going to be rewarded."

Officials with IMMI, which makes seat belt systems at a facility at 18881 U.S. 31, said the project is needed for the area to progress.

"INDOT is willing to setup alternatives to move traffic during construction. Yes, it's going to be a hindrance, but, hopefully, it will not prohibit or hurt our operation," said spokesman Tony Shelonka.

Gibbs Auto Interiors at 18318 U.S. 31. will be moving out before the construction crews come through.

"When they come through here, they are going to tear this building down. We are going to need to move at some point," said owner Scott Gibbs. "Rather than wait until traffic is snarled up, we're going to move ahead of time."

Some residents said they're worried not about the finished product, but the detours that could last for some time.

"I live in Village Farms, which is right adjacent to 151st Street. Our concerns are traffic being bypassed into residential areas, not just for months, but for a couple of years," said David Gill.

Work on the SR 38 portion of the project, where what's called a folded diamond interchange will be built, began in May. It's expected to be complete by fall 2012.

The Keystone Parkway and 146th Street interchange will be the next part to be built.

INDOT officials said they will take suggestions and recommendations from the public and could adjust construction plans accordingly.

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