INDOT wraps up 2½ years of construction on Interstate 65

It’s official.

Interstate 65 between U.S. 50 in Seymour and State Road 58 in Walesboro has expanded to three lanes of travel in each direction.

After two and a half years of construction, the $143 million I-65 Southeast Indiana Project is mostly complete with some work continuing at the State Road 11 interchange through the end of November. That exit, Exit 55, just north of Seymour, remains closed to traffic.

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A reduced speed limit of 65 mph is in place from the 54-mile-marker to the 56.5-mile-marker during that construction.

State and local government officials gathered Tuesday morning for a ribbon-cutting ceremony at the northbound weigh station near Seymour to signify the official opening of the new travel lanes, which span 14.25 miles.

The widening of 18 mainline bridges and rehabilitation of nine overpass bridges also were part of the project.

Speaking at Tuesday’s event were Indiana Department of Transportation Commissioner Joe McGuinness and Spencer Coe, E and B Paving area manager. E and B Paving served as the general contractor for the job.

INDOT committed to the project in order to improve mobility in the region for all motorists with a focus on heavy truck traffic, McGuinness said. Construction began in the spring of 2018.

“This is one of the first major projects that I’ve seen through from start to finish since becoming commissioner in 2017,” McGuinness said. “Having three travel lanes in each direction will greatly improve safety and mobility along this stretch of road.”

Heavy truck traffic accounts for close to 30% of daily traffic on I-65 in southeast Indiana, and that amount is expected to increase significantly in the next 20 years, he said.

The contract for the next section of added travel lanes on I-65 from State Road 58 in Walesboro to State Road 46 in Columbus is expected to go to bid later this fall with construction beginning in the spring.

Seymour Mayor Matt Nicholson attended Tuesday’s event and said he is glad to see the project coming to a close.

“The completion of this project makes travel easier to the north,” Nicholson said. “As Commissioner McGuinness said, 30% of the traffic in our section is freight, and that percentage will continue to grow as our community grows, as well.”

The project was broken into three stages. The first stage was from Walesboro to just north of the Jonesville exit. Stage 2 was from the bridge of the East Fork White River to the U.S. 50 exit. The third and final stage was the area in between and was completed last because of the number of bridges.

Many of the bridges had to be widened first so two lanes of traffic could be maintained both northbound and southbound during construction.

Also taking part in the ribbon cutting was District 69 State Rep. Jim Lucas, R-Seymour.

“Indiana is committed to improving and maintaining our roads and infrastructure, and today’s opening of a much-needed expansion of I-65 shows that commitment,” Lucas said. “Our roads are not only being made more efficient but safer, as well.”