By Jamie Hergott, Hendricks County Flyer

INDIANAPOLIS - Tired of sitting in traffic and crawling down the interstate through construction zones? Officials with the Indiana Department of Transportation say improvements are right on time, but it may be a while before the projects are completely finished as the entire westside corridor is receiving a facelift, thanks to Gov. Mitch Daniels' Major Moves initiative.

Will Wingfield, spokesman for INDOT, is asking motorists to hang tight and be patient, because the end result will be well worth the wait.

"There's a certain element that the project might be overkill," Wingfield said. "But it won't be in a few years. The idea is not only to deal with traffic now, but for what we predict in the years to come."

The project, dubbed Accelerate 465, will reconstruct the 11-mile corridor on the west side of Indianapolis from just south of the 56th Street interchange to the I-70 interchange.

"This is the oldest section of I-465 that has not been rebuilt," Wingfield said. "That's why we're doing this project now. Certainly there's been quite a bit of growth on the west side since it was first built and it's to the point where we can't just add pavement along the outside. The pavement has a lifespan and this section of highway is ending its useable life."

The schedule of the project spans from July of last summer to March of 2013. While it seems light years away, Wingfield said everything is on time and some of the work is even getting done sooner than expected.

"Our contractors have surprised me with their ability to stay on or ahead of schedule," Wingfield said. "They have been working throughout the winter doing things that contractors typically wouldn't try to attempt because of weather conditions. I know motorists hate to sit in traffic during road projects, but if we can just get into that area, get it done as soon as possible, and then open up the beautiful new facility as quickly as possible, that's how we'll uphold the public trust."

The bridge replacements for 34th and 46th streets will be finished by July of 2008, and the 38th Street mainline will be completed by July 2009, he said.

The construction is and will continue to be a combination of highway infrastructure changes, technological updates, and architectural touches.

One of the four active contracts is associated with a program called Traffic Wise. This is an initiative to update I-465 in terms of traffic sensors to detect the flow of traffic, as well as cameras that can pan and zoom. This will allow information to be fed to traffic reporters and will also allow for the correct personnel to be sent to the scene of an accident.

The other three active contracts involve the 21st and 34th streets' bridges, as well as the 38th Street mainline area.

"When all is said and done, this will be a $550 million project," Wingfield said. "We have about $90 million out in active contracts right now. The funding was one of our bigger challenges. That's a lot of money even to an agency who deals with a lot of high-dollar road jobs. This is certainly the largest project in the metro area and will be for a while. Now we have the funding because of Major Moves. This is the shovel hitting the ground. These physical road projects being built are a manifestation of a lot of background work."

Previous projects have revealed an aesthetic feel to the highway improvements. The new 46th Street bridge has decorative stone patterns and metal railings that serve a functional purpose, Wingfield says, but also have a visual appeal.

"The engineers call it context sensitive," Wingfield said. "The whole corridor itself will have a consistent look and feel in order to mesh with the community."

Wingfield said he wants to thank motorists for their patience, and also remind them of the slower speed limits within the construction zones.

"This is one area that state police will be doing heavy patrols on this summer as we get into the road construction phase," Wingfield said. "As constructions gear up, motorists need to gear down. That's for their own safety, as well as the workers. There are narrower lanes and traffic shifts so if you're not going slow, they'll come up on you fast."

For more information of the project, visit the website at

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