I-70 lane restrictions lifted until spring
No, your eyes haven't deceived you. And those men at work along Interstate 70 haven't suddenly added capes and magic wands to their toolboxes.
But as of Wednesday morning, I-70 travelers should find clear sailing from Terre Haute to Indianapolis.
That was the official word Tuesday afternoon from Debbie Calder, Indiana Department of Transportation (INDOT) media relations director.
"Yes," she told the Banner Graphic, "the I-70 lane restrictions have been lifted and will remain lifted for the holiday weekend."
That means all the construction zone barrels that have dotted the I-70 landscape the past couple of months have been moved back out of the way from east of Plainfield (State Road 267) to the Brazil exit (State Road 59).
During the ongoing highway work, an 11-foot width restriction has been in place for vehicles.
There will still be some periodic lane closures after the holiday weekend, Calder said, "but not to the extent we have had out there."
Some of those lane closures and even the slightest fender-bender in the construction zone have been known to back up I-70 traffic for miles in the western Indiana construction zone.
But the INDOT spokesman said I-70 drivers will have a reprieve until approximately April 1.
Milestone Construction, which was awarded the $27.9 million resurfacing project, is nearly finished with pavement patching work in the area. However, it will still be completing "under-drain work until the weather turns bad, probably mid-December," Calder said.
All restrictions have also been lifted and the barrels moved back out of the way in the area between State Road 59 at Brazil and the U.S. 40/State Road 46 exit near Terre Haute, she said.
"So everything should be open from Terre Haute to Indianapolis by Wednesday to allow for the movement of traffic for the busy holiday weekend," Calder said.
Until the Hoosier weather turns nasty, the area may still see "periodic lane closures," she said.
After the winter weather settles in, I-70 roadwork will cease until resuming in the spring.
"Typically that is around April 1," Calder said.
The overall I-70 patch and rehabilitation project, which began Aug. 15, encompasses the entire length of I-70 through Putnam County and cuts across portions of Clay, Hendricks, Morgan and Vigo counties as it runs from the state line to two miles east of Plainfield.
That work is to be completed next year with all permanent pavement markings and reseeding to be done by May 18, 2012.
The section of the patch and rehabilitation project that runs from the Wabash River Bridge at the Indiana-Illinois state line east to State Road 59 began construction in mid-September and is scheduled for completion on Aug. 31, 2012. Wabash Valley Asphalt was awarded that phase of the I-70 work for $4.3 million.
While problematic at times for drivers, the I-70 work has been long overdue, INDOT officials said.
"This work on I-70 is necessary due to the heavy truck and volume of traffic that we have on this stretch of the interstate," Alan Plunkett, INDOT Crawfordsville district deputy commissioner, said recently. "We have some deterioration of the pavement and getting this done now doesn't prolong construction over several years."