Prepare to go slow: I-65 widening promises painful process


In a little over two years, Interstate 65 traffic between Columbus and Seymour will be moving swiftly on three lanes in both directions.

But until then, plan for I-65 frustrations and travel delays.

“It’s going to be painful. It’s going to be slow,” Indiana Department of Transportation Commissioner Joe McGuinness warned Friday regarding travel along I-65 in northern Jackson and southern Bartholomew counties through the summer of 2020.

As the former mayor of Franklin, McGuinness knows first-hand what problems can be created when an interstate expands from two to three lanes through a city. That’s what took place along I-65 between Greenwood and Franklin in 2015 and 2016.

McGuinness’ comments came during a groundbreaking ceremony near NTN Driveshaft that officially kicked off not only the 14-mile I-65 Southeast Indiana Project, but INDOT’s entire 2018 construction season, McGuinness said.

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The local project involves adding a third travel lane south of the Walesboro-Ogilville exit to U.S. 50 in Seymour, as well as the rehabilitation of 27 bridges. It also calls for the resurfacing of the existing pavement between State Road 46 in Columbus and the State Road 58 interchange.

Standing alongside Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb in front of a crowd of more than 100 people, McGuinness made a few plea for patience to motorists and passengers.

“Please don’t take it out on the men and women in the yellow reflective vests and hardhats,” he said. “And when you drive through a construction zone, just leave your cell phone alone. Trust me, your call can wait.”

Holcomb made a similar plea to all motorists to “be alert, pay attention and don’t be distracted.”

“Yes, these crews may be between your Point A and Point B,” the governor said. “But we want to make sure they get home — just like you want to do.”

While restrictions along I-65 will cause inconveniences and delays in the upcoming months, Seymour mayor Craig Luedeman expects things to get worse in his community next year.

“Not only will we still have this going on, but we will also be renovating U.S. 50 in Seymour in 2019,” Luedeman said following Friday’s ceremony. “We’ll have major congestion going on.”

But Columbus mayor Jim Lienhoop said plans call for keeping two lanes of I-65 open in both directions at all times during construction in southern Bartholomew County.

“There will be some crossovers,” the Columbus mayor said. “But it’s a lot better than trying to skinny everybody down to one lane.”

However, plans could be revised if road crews encounter unexpected obstacles during the next three years, McGuinness said.

Three new stoplights that are being installed this spring along State Road 58 at the I-65 interchange will feature state-of-the-art technology that will be especially helpful in controlling left-hand turns, Lienhoop said.

“Those stoplights will all be smart, talk to each other, and be able to monitor the traffic as it goes through there,” Lienhoop said.

Friday’s ceremony at the Woodside South Industrial Park garnered statewide attention because it marks the beginning of the first full construction season of Indiana’s Next Level Roads program. Across the state, more than 900 INDOT road projects will be under construction this year, the governor said.

Holcomb describes Next Level Roads as a sustainable, data-driven plan that will dedicate more than $30 billion over the next 20 years to improving the conditions of existing roads and bridges.

Funded through a 10-cent-a-gallon increase in the state’s gas tax that went into effect this past July, the new road program will enhance Indiana’s position as a leader in freight and logistics, the governor said. It’s also expected to empower cities, towns and counties to build communities that attract jobs and talent, Holcomb said.

Inclusion of the Walesboro-Ogilville exit into the three-lane I-65 expansion in southern Indiana was largely the result of a nine-year, public-private partnership that involved a number of Bartholomew County businesses, Lienhoop confirmed.

Those companies include Cummins Inc., the Phoenix Group, Sunright America, LHP Tech, Advanced Mold and Engineering, and NTN Driveshaft, said Jim Riggs, NTN president and chief executive officer, during Friday’s ceremony.

“The main thing we are doing is to support the safety of our employees and our residents,” Riggs said. “For years, it has been a little bit unsafe (at the State Road 58 interchange). But the steps being taken here today will alleviate that, and provide a much safer environment.”

Besides contributing some funding, those companies also joined state and local officials in “reviewing real data, letting the facts address needs — and then figuring out how we were going to pay for it,” Holcomb said.

Holcomb said the work being done between Columbus and Seymour “displays the state’s commitment to the manufacturers that we will stand ready to make our infrastructure investments to help your business grow and move new products to the market.”

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Beginning Tuesday, two rural bridges that overpass Interstate 65 will be closed as part of the I-65 Southeast Indiana project.

The overpasses at Bartholomew County Road 625S and County Line Road (Jackson County Road 1100N) may remain closed for up to 45 days. Detours will be marked.

Work being done includes patching bridge piers, modifying superstructure features and installing deck overlays.


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The Indiana Department of Transportation has developed a new user-friendly, interactive map to make it easier for Hoosiers to find out which projects are planned on INDOT routes.

The new Google Maps-based tool also includes information on select local projects receiving federal funds, as well as those awarded through the state’s Community Crossing program, that are anticipated for the next five years.

Using online tools such as CARS and Trafficwise, the map is designed to help motorists plan ahead and avoid construction delays, INDOT commissioner Joe McGuiness said.

The map can be found online at


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  • Underway: Expansion of three lanes in each direction of Interstate 65, from State Road 58 south to Able Ditch near the Bartholomew-Jackson County line. The widening work should be completed in the spring of 2019
  • Later this year: Resurfacing of the I-65 and State Road 11 exit ramps in northern Jackson County.


  • Expansion of I-65 from U.S. 50 in Seymour north to the East Fork White River in Jackson County.
  • Rehabilitation of several bridges and overpasses in northern Jackson County.


  • Construction will take place between East Fork White River and Able Ditch in northern Jackson County.
  • The entire I-65 Southeast Indiana Project is scheduled to be completed by August 5, 2020.[sc:pullout-text-end]

    [sc:pullout-title pullout-title=”By The Numbers” ][sc:pullout-text-begin]

    I-65 Southeast Indiana Project

    $143 million: Total investment

    14.25: Miles of Interstate 65 (State Road 58 to U.S. 50) being worked on from now through August 2020.

    27: Bridges rehabilitated (2018-2020)

    8.2: Miles between State Road 58 and the Bartholomew/Jackson county line being expanded to three lanes, with most of the work being done this year.

    4: Miles of existing pavement receiving a new overlay between State Road 46 and State Road 58 this year.

    3: New traffic signals installed this spring at the Walesboro-Ogilville exit.

    2018 Next Level Roads statewide

    $1 billion: Total investment.

    900: Total projects

    2,229: Lanes miles being resurfaced

    613: Bridges or culverts rehabilitated or replaced.

    47: Lane miles added

    1,522: Lane miles chip-and-sealed

    52: Safety improvement projects


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