Posted September 01, 2018 05:16:16A road in western Indiana is getting its first taste of a new life as part of a $150 million plan to transform it into a new freeway, the first of its kind in the United States.
A group of private companies is teaming up with the local government to develop the westside highway from the downtown area to the Indianapolis River.
The road would replace an aging road that is part of an aging section of Interstate 80 that links Indiana with Illinois.
The highway’s future will depend on the type of highway it replaces.
The Indiana Department of Transportation has approved the project as part the Indiana Department Road System.
The road would be the first major road project on the west bank of the Indianapolis river since the interstate was built in the 1960s.
“The west side of the I-80 is not as desirable as other parts of the state because of the amount of traffic that is on that portion of the interstate, but it is certainly an attractive area,” said Gary Hovland, an architect and engineering professor at Purdue University.
“A lot of people that are looking for a route to the east end of the city, and they’re trying to get there by train, they’ll have to go through the west end of town,” he added.
“There’s no rail service in the area at the moment.
We’re not talking about a train corridor, but there’s lots of opportunity to build out rail lines,” Hovart said.
Construction of the new highway could start as soon as 2018.
The group of companies is calling it the “west side Highway” project, and it would replace a section of the westbound Interstate 80 from the north side of downtown Indianapolis to the west.
“I think it will be a major boon for the area,” Hivland said.
The Indiana Department has been working on the project for more than three years.
The state has an existing highway that goes directly to the south end of Indianapolis, and the highway would connect with a section that goes to the north of the metro area.
The westside Highway would not connect directly to Interstate 80, but the section would go through downtown Indianapolis and Indiana State University, where many students live.
The existing highway ends near the University of Indianapolis campus.
“We want to connect the west of downtown to the city center, to the lakefront, to downtown,” Hvart said, adding that the project would be built on the existing west side I-81 highway, which is about a mile north of downtown.
“It will be something that is going to attract people to downtown Indianapolis, not just from the west, but from all directions,” he said.
Hovland said the state would not require the construction of a bridge over the river.
He said the project is not likely to impact other parts the highway, but that it could cause traffic headaches in other areas.
The highway will not be a direct highway route, but would have a few other routes in and out of downtown, and would be similar to the existing Interstate 80.
The $150,000 cost of the project includes a study and a design review.
A final project plan is expected to be submitted to the state by mid-2018.
“This project will be an investment in the region and it will create jobs, it will bring new people to our community and it is a very significant investment in our state,” Havart said of the development.