HANCOCK COUNTY — Shelbey Rea has always known the bridges along Interstate 70 between Hancock and Henry counties need a little attention.
Weather, semi-trailers and 70-mile-per-hour traffic have left their mark; her car rattles every time she hits a dip or pothole.
That said, the Greenfield resident — among some 42,000 drivers who travel on I-70 between State Road 9 and the Henry County line daily — isn’t looking forward to dealing with several months of construction during her daily commute to New Castle.
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This spring, the Indiana Department of Transportation will invest about $7.2 million in rehabbing and rebuilding bridges along I-70 between Hancock and Henry counties, an effort that will bring reduced speeds and occasional lane closures.
Repairs are slated to start this spring, with all work completed by November, according to an INDOT news release; Milestone Contractors of Indianapolis has been tapped to complete the work.
An exact construction timeline will be finalized after INDOT officials meet with contractors, said Nathan Riggs, information director for the Indiana Department of Transportation.
In all, five bridges in Hancock and two in Henry counties will be repaired or rehabbed as part of the contract; speed limits in the construction area will be reduced, and traffic will be reconfigured, the news release states.
While construction is ongoing, the speed limit, normally 70 miles per hour between Hancock County and Henry County, will decrease to 50 miles per hour. When workers are in the area, the speed limit will drop to 45, a news release states.
Specifics on traffic restrictions have yet to be announced; they’ll be finalized after the contractor submits a project schedule, Riggs said.
Rea, who works at Henry County’s Interlocal Community Action Program, said she often takes State Road 234 to 38 if there’s a traffic issue on I-70. During the next few months, she’ll take that route more often to avoid the construction, she said.
It will add a few minutes to her commute, she said, but avoiding construction congestion will be worth the extra driving time.
“Luckily, I already have an alternative route,” Rea said. “But those days when I’m running behind, jumping on 70 isn’t going to be the easiest and fastest way.”
Work planned includes:
Rehabilitating and preserving a pair of bridges over Brandywine Creek, just east of the State Road 9 exit. Work will be completed in two phases, with two lanes of traffic shifted toward the median in the first phase and toward the shoulder during the second phase. Lane closures are expected overnight between 9 p.m. and 6 a.m. The interstate exits are expected to remain open.
Overlaying a new bridge floor on County Road 850E will close the bridge over Interstate 70. During the closure, traffic on the county road will be detoured. Drivers are advised to cross the interstate using County Road 600E.
Rebuilding two bridges over Six Mile Creek near mile marker 112 in Hancock County. During construction of each bridge, one lane of traffic will be temporarily shifted across the median, with east and west traffic being separated by concrete barriers. At least one lane in each direction will remain open at all times.
Two bridges over Montgomery Creek just east of the State Road 109 exit in Henry County will also be repaired. Some weekend lane and ramp closures are expected.
As a months-long construction project on Interstate 70 kicks off, officials are asking drivers to slow down and remain alert. The Indiana State Police offer these tips to drivers:
– Slow down. Even though it might appear there are no workers in the area, reduce your speed and expect sudden lane shifts, narrow lanes and the potential for construction equipment entering traffic lanes as work is completed.
– Increase distance between you and the car in front of yours. Doing so not only gives you time to stop to avoid a collision in an emergency braking situation; it also increases your visibility ahead so you can react to upcoming hazards in time.
– Avoid weaving in and out of traffic. It might seem like another lane is moving faster, but frequent and unnecessary lane changes increase the potential for a crash.
– Limit distractions. Put down your phone, and focus on driving.
Source: Indiana State Police
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Drivers can also subscribe to receive text and email alerts about INDOT projects at bit.ly/INDOTsubscription.