The Daily Reformer
JOHNSON COUNTY, Ind – Drivers who use State Road 37 through Johnson County should be on the lookout for orange barrels and work crews this week as construction and site preparation for the I-69 expansion continues to move north.
Access to SR 37 to and from Stones Crossing Road will soon be cut off on the west side of the highway and traffic will be redirected along a frontage road that is currently being built. The frontage road will lead drivers to Smith Valley Road and SR 144, where drivers will be able to access SR 37.
Preparation is also underway to widen and rebuild the bridge over Honey Creek, just north of Smith Valley Road. That will be the first mainline bridge work for the I-69 project to be done in Johnson County. The preparation work will require single-lane closures on SR 37 between Fairview Road and SR 144. Eventually, bridge work will require a traffic shift using temporary concrete barriers.
“Not expecting any full closures, but definitely some lane closures, some short delays will be possible, especially with the utility work,” said INDOT spokesperson Natalie Garrett.
Underground utility work is already happening throughout the project zone from Morgan County, through Johnson and into Marion Counties. Multiple utility crews are working each day to get underground lines prepared for upcoming construction.
“Power line work, water line work, gas line work,” Garrett said. “Getting things moved, relocated out of the way.”
Utility work near the intersection of Old State Road 37 and Huggin Hollow Road, just west of 37, is resulting in stop-and-go traffic being directed by flaggers. The work zone is making it challenging for Andy Shaul to leave his house.
“It is what it is, I mean we can’t stop progress,” Shaul said.
While Shaul believes the I-69 expansion will eventually be worth the effort and expense, he’s not happy with what the construction is doing to the area surrounding his home near SR 37. He and his family are now planning to move.
“They’ve taken out all our trees along the interstate and it’s made the noise levels come up,” he said. “And we’re just ready to get a little further out in the country.”
The I-69 work moves northward as drivers continue to detour around a 5-mile closure of SR 37 in Martinsville. Garrett said the closure is keeping work crews safe and keeping the overall project on schedule.
“Things are progressing well down in Martinsville, progressing on schedule,” she said. “Things are starting to ramp up with the turn of the weather.”
Garrett also sympathizes with drivers who are having to find new routes amid local road closures.
“Might take a little longer to get where you need to go,” Garrett said. But once people are able to give it some time, figure it out, they can find a route that works for them.”
This Monday, the I-69 Finish Line project website will be relaunched with a new format. INDOT says the new site will make it easier for residents to follow the different stages of work. The $1.5 billion project is slated for completion by the end of 2024 when the new I-69 connects to I-465 on the southwest side of Indianapolis.