A $15 million state-funded project to tear out and rebuild a heavily traveled portion of East U.S. 50 (Tipton Street) in Seymour is set to begin next week.
The project will consist of full-depth pavement replacement of 1.25 miles of U.S. 50 between Agrico Lane and U.S. 31, an added two-way left turn lane, intersection improvements at U.S. 31 and construction of a new multiuse path along the north side of U.S. 50.
The features are designed to improve traffic flow and make it safer for vehicles and pedestrians traveling through the busy corridor.
On Monday, crews from Milestone Contractors will start construction to widen the twin bridges over Sandy Creek to accommodate the new center turn lane and pedestrian path, which is being funded by the city of Seymour for $1 million.
Traffic will shift to the far right lane and shoulder area while work is in progress, according to a news release from the Indiana Department of Transportation.
Although Milestone plans to maintain two travel lanes in each direction for the duration of the project, motorists should anticipate reduced speeds and shifted traffic patterns and be cautious of machinery and work crews in the area through 2021.
“The short-term headaches that will come from the Highway 50 project will be well worth the long-term improvements in the area,” Seymour Mayor Matt Nicholson said. “I encourage everyone to use caution when driving the area to keep our road workers safe.”
City engineer Bernie Hauersperger with FPBH Inc. said now is a good time to start the project because of less traffic being on the roads due to the ongoing COVID-19 stay-at-home order.
“I am seeing city traffic being at about half of what we normally have running in terms of vehicles per hour, so we hope to have a safe start to U.S. 50 maintenance of traffic operations,” he said.
Those not driving the route daily will notice shifting lanes of traffic.
“If you come to town once every two weeks, you may be shifting different directions from trip to trip,” he said. “We all need to be alert and watch for the driver that may be confused to the signage and taking both lanes. People should expect slow traveling.”
The city is planning to add some temporary lighting improvements in some areas along the route, but that work has been delayed due to utility relocations, Hauersperger said.
“We hope to have that lighting up by the time traffic picks up later in May,” he said.
The bulk of Phase 1 of the U.S. 50 project will get underway in early August. At that time, all traffic east of Sandy Creek Drive and Frontage Road will be moved to the westbound lanes while the eastbound lanes are rebuilt. The existing concrete pavement will be removed and replaced with full-depth asphalt.
Motorists will not have access to the Interstate 65 ramps on the south side of U.S. 50 during Phase 1 and will instead have to use realigned ramps with temporary traffic signals to get on and off the interstate. The regular ramps are scheduled to reopen by the end of the year, according to INDOT.
Phase 2 is scheduled to begin in the spring of 2021. At that time, all traffic will be moved to the eastbound lanes of U.S. 50 while the westbound lanes are rebuilt. The Interstate 65 ramps on the north side of U.S. 50 will be closed, but traffic will be able to get on and off the interstate using realigned ramps with temporary signals.
In Phase 3, all traffic between Agrico Lane and Sandy Creek Drive and Frontage Road will be moved to eastbound lanes while construction gets underway in the westbound lanes and will return to its respective lanes east of Sandy Creek to Stevens Way.
Between Stevens Way and U.S. 31, traffic will shift again to the right while median work is completed. This work will begin in the summer of 2021 and also will include the widening of the north side of the Sandy Creek bridge for the addition of a sidewalk.
Phases 4 and 5 will get underway in late summer of 2021. A dedicated right turn lane for eastbound traffic turning south onto U.S. 31 is going to be added. Also, the turn lane taking traffic from southbound U.S. 31 to West U.S. 50 will be extended, and a concrete island will be constructed to separate the right turn lane from westbound traffic.
Lane closures will be in place at the intersection while work is completed. Motorists should slow down, use extra caution and drive distraction-free through all work zones.
Hauersperger said he is glad to see INDOT get started on the project.
“The construction plans are well designed, and it will be a great benefit for the city,” he said.
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For information about this project, visit in.gov/indot/3982.htm.