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What is the I-65/I-70 North Split Project (North Split Project)?
The North Split Project is an upgrade of the existing interchange where I-65 and I-70 meet on the northeast side of downtown Indianapolis. The North Split is the second-most heavily traveled interchange in Indiana. Pavement and bridges in the interchange area require rehabilitation or replacement due to their poor structural condition. The North Split Project will also provide the opportunity to improve safety and operations for all users.
In September 2018, INDOT released the North Split Alternatives Screening Report, which analyzed a range of preliminary alternatives and identified the preliminary preferred alternative to be evaluated in greater detail in the Environmental Assessment (EA). The EA is being developed to meet the requirements of the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (NEPA). The recommended preliminary alternative identified in the Alternatives Screening Report is currently being refined.
Why is this happening now?
About 214,000 vehicles use the North Split interchange each day. Portions of the North Split interchange were built 50 years ago and the infrastructure is in poor condition. It is operating at full capacity and crash rates are higher than statewide averages for urban interstates. Traffic regularly slows or stops during peak travel periods. The interchange is at the end of its useful life. Specifically:
- Due to poor structural condition, 11 bridges need rehabilitation or replacement during the next 5 years. Another 16 bridges require rehabilitation or replacement in the next 10 years.
- Deteriorating pavement requires constant repair and patching on the roadway and shoulders, which is expensive and disruptive for users.
- The crash rate is almost twice as high as other urban interstates. Injury rates are almost three times as high.
- The configuration of the existing interchange creates “weaving” conflicts as motorists cross paths to reach their destination. Weaving movements with high volumes of traffic are the primary cause of crashes and congestion in the North Split.
What is the purpose of the North Split Project?
The purpose of the North Split Project is to rehabilitate and improve the existing interstate facilities within the project area and reduce or eliminate conditions that contribute to high crash rates and congested conditions.
What needs must the project meet?
The North Split Project must meet the following transportation needs:
- Correct deteriorated bridge conditions.
- Correct deteriorated pavement conditions.
- Improve safety by eliminating conflict points and realigning curves.
- Improve interchange operations and reduce congestion by eliminating bottlenecks.
How will the project benefit drivers who use the interchange?
Improvements to the interchange will result in safer conditions for those who use the interchange. Traffic will flow more smoothly due to the elimination of existing conflict points and bottlenecks. Replacing the pavement and bridges will result in fewer short-term delays due to roadway repair and maintenance projects.
What project activities are currently underway?
INDOT published the Alternatives Screening Report in September 2018, which defined and analyzed different alternatives for the North Split and identified a preliminary preferred alternative to be advanced in the EA. The preliminary preferred alternative is being refined based on stakeholder input and more detailed engineering analysis.
Context Sensitive Solutions (CSS) is also underway. CSS is a collaborative, interdisciplinary decision-making process and design approach that involves all stakeholders to develop a transportation facility that is integrated effectively with the surrounding community.
How has the public been involved in project development?
INDOT and the North Split Project Team have engaged stakeholders and the public throughout the environmental review process. Hundreds of meetings have been held since project inception in 2017, including public open houses, surveys, neighborhood meetings, one-on-one meetings, group presentations and advisory committee meetings.
The Project Team has held regular update meetings with City of Indianapolis and the Indianapolis MPO staff. The following advisory committees have provided key feedback to the Project Team during project development:
• Community Advisory Committee
• Environmental Justice Working Group
• Environmental-Related Resource Agencies
• Context Sensitive Solutions Resource Group
• Section 106 Consulting Parties (historic properties and districts)
• Emergency Management Services
What is the Preliminary Preferred Alternative and why was it chosen?
It is INDOT’s determination that among the alternatives that meet the project purpose and need, Alternative 4c would provide the best balance of meeting safety and mobility needs while minimizing or potentially eliminating the need for retaining walls along the legs of the interchange, and Alternative 4c does not include added through lanes on the interstates. Subject to input from agencies, advisory committees, and the public during the comment period of the Alternatives Screening Report, Alternative 4c will be the preferred alternative to be analyzed in detail in the EA.
When will a final North Split alternative be selected?
A preliminary preferred alternative (Alternative 4c) is identified in the Alternatives Screening Report. A final alternative will be selected and published in the EA in mid 2020.
When will the North Split Project be under construction?
Most of the construction is scheduled to occur in 2021 and 2022. Due to the magnitude of the project, two construction seasons will be required to complete the work. Some construction may begin in 2020, though it is likely to be outside the existing roadway area with little or no disruption of existing traffic patterns.