U.S. 31 work set to begin


For The Tribune

The first stages of the $8.4 mil- lion project that eventually will close sections of U.S. 31 in southern Bartholomew County and northern Jackson County will get underway in just a few days.

Drivers, get ready for flaggers who will begin directing traffic Monday morning around exploratory drilling operations at the Sand Creek Bridge, located at the Jackson-Bartholomew county line, said Harry Maginity, spokesman for the Indiana Department of Transportation.

This preliminary project, which begins a month before the bridge replacement, will continue through Thursday afternoon, Maginity said.

Meanwhile, restrictions will begin Monday on State Road 7 at the bridge over Little Sand Creek, near County Road 525E at Elizabethtown in southern Bartholomew County.

But crews plan to replace the structure one half at a time, the same way they did last year on State Road 9, north of East 25th Street. A temporary stoplight will be installed to maintain two-way traffic on one lane over the river crossing.

The signal will continue to regulate traffic on the main link between North Vernon and Columbus through Nov. 15, so drivers will want to give themselves a little additional time to reach their destination, Maginity said.

Although the spring construction season is getting underway, there still has been no decision when a new roundabout along U.S. 31 at Southern Crossing will be installed.

Originally, state highway engineers seemed adamant about waiting until next year to install the circular intersection, said Danny Hollander, Bartholomew County highway engineer.

But when State Rep. Milo Smith, R-Columbus, met with deputy INDOT commissioner Anthony McClellan last month, the deputy commissioner said it made sense to do it all in one year, Smith said.

As a result, engineers and project managers are reconsidering the matter, Smith told the Bartholomew County Commissioners during a Feb. 22 meeting.

Whenever a decision is finalized, installing the roundabout should take a couple of months, said Hillary Louther, an INDOT traffic engineer.

Starting March 21, the first highway closure will take place on the northeast side of Seymour below the CSX railroad bridge.

For at least five days, crews from Milestone Contractors will stay in that same area removing and replacing pavement between East County Avenue and County Road 700N in Jackson County, Maginity said.

After that, the workers will begin milling and resurfacing the highway further north to the Sand Creek Bridge, the INDOT spokesman said.

Current plans are to demolish and replace the two-lane bridge southeast of Azalia from April 4 through Nov. 15 of this year. However, utility coordination is ongoing to determine if timelines can be advanced, Maginity said.

While the bridge is closed, Bartholomew County motorists should expect detours or one-lane closures as crews continue repaving U.S. 31 all the way north to Base Road near Columbus, where the project ends, he said.

While the official detour consists of Interstate 65 between State Road 46 in Columbus and U.S. 50 in Seymour, both INDOT and Hollander acknowledge many drivers will seek an alternate route.

Both anticipate that alternative detour will be Bartholomew County roads 600E and 850S and Jackson County Road 1300E from the Bartholomew County line to U.S. 50, Hollander said.

Contracts to do extensive reconstruction on I-65 between U.S. 50 at Seymour and the Walesboro-Ogilville exit will not be until next February, Maginity said.

Other construction work, including the U.S. 31 project, prompted INDOT officials to delay that previously announced project, he said.

[sc:pullout-title pullout-title=”Roundabout: Reasons to wait” ][sc:pullout-text-begin]

Engineers with the Indiana Department of Transportation outlined the following reasons for delaying the installation of a roundabout at U.S. 31 and Southern Crossing until next year.

  • The lack of an official detour access between the two closures precluded approval of concurrent closures at the roundabout and the bridges.
  • Sand Creek and Quade Ditch Bridge would close this year requiring a southern local detour, but U.S. 31 will remain open north of Sand Creek.
  • Next year, with only County Road 400S closed, only a northern local detour would have to be utilized.
  • If the closure extended between Southern Crossing and Sand Creek, this would be a 5½-mile closure. It would encompass eight county road approaches, impact numerous residents along the closed section and create access problems for emergency services vehicles.

The bridge reconstructions, roundabout and resurfacing all were included in one contract that was awarded Dec. 9. Completion date for the entire contract is Nov. 15.

[sc:pullout-text-end][sc:pullout-title pullout-title=”State Road 7 at Little Sand Creek lane restrictions” ][sc:pullout-text-begin]

Starting Monday, more than 12,000 motorists who drive the main highway between Columbus and North Vernon daily will need to give themselves a little extra time.  

Restrictions involved in a $1.6 million project to replace the State Road 7 bridge over Little Sand Creek at County Road 525E begin next week, according to the Indiana Department of Transportation.

Removing and replacing the single-span structure one half at a time will require that two-way traffic be maintained on one lane of the bridge. A temporary traffic signal will be used to regulate motorists, who are advised that lane widths will be restricted to 10 feet, INDOT spokesman Harry Maginity said.

After the bridge was damaged last summer, a decision was made to replace it with a new reinforced concrete bulb-T beam structure, the release stated.  

Although the highway will remain open, motorists are advised there will be closures to County Road 525E heading southwest into Elizabethtown, Maginity said.

However, those who use the same road on the other side of the highway to go northeast past Ceraland will be less impacted, the release stated. 

State highway officials hope to have both lanes open across the new bridge by early October, although there may still be periodic restrictions until mid-November, Maginity said.


No posts to display