South Split project detours begin Monday, local businesses ready themselves for fewer customers

INDIANAPOLIS - Beginning Monday, drivers have to find a new way to get to parts of downtown Indianapolis and beyond. Even though the South Split project doesn’t start till Tuesday, restrictions go into effect Labor Day.

The 59-day closure will lower the pavement under seven bridges, so over-sized trucks will no longer run into them.

The closure has its downsides, though. It will keep thousands of drivers off a stretch of interstate, and it will also keep them from having direct access to some downtown businesses.

Without a storefront – or even a name – Nameless Pizza in Indianapolis’ Fountain Square is building a customer base.

“We try to keep our products upscale and these are the best pepperonis we could find,” Nameless Pizza’s Evan Barnard said. “They come all around from Carmel, Shelbyville – we go to Greenfield – everywhere."

Now, people coming from interstates 65 or 70 will have to find a new route.

The Virginia Avenue ramp leading to Nameless Pizza and its shopmate, Cultured Swirl, is closing for two months. It’s part of the $12.4 million Indiana Department of Transportation (INDOT) project to repair the South Split, to put a stop to collisions between over-sized trucks and the bridge. There’ve been more than 400 since 1999.

"I'd never be happy about it because any loss of business is loss of business,” Cultured Swirl’s Brett Wilson said.

Cultured Swirl managers said the majority of their customers are locals who travel miles for the organic treat.

“We have the occasional person who is coming through the city and will get on their phone and look up ice cream or look up frozen yogurt, and once they figure out that we're here, then they'll come off of 65 down here,” Wilson said. “So, yeah, I would assume we would lose some of those customers."

INDOT officials advise drivers to tack on an extra 15 to 20 minutes to their commutes. The same goes for Nameless Pizza delivery drivers who, up until now, have filled orders in roughly 30 minutes.

Both new businesses are banking on savvy drivers maneuvering the detours with their taste buds and INDOT maps guiding the way.

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