Construction workers pour concrete along the future I-69 on Martinsville's southeast side. I-69 Finish Line photo
Construction workers pour concrete along the future I-69 on Martinsville's southeast side. I-69 Finish Line photo
MARTINSVILLE — It has been more than 9 months since the Indiana Department of Transportation closed a 5-mile stretch of Ind. 37 in Martinsville to upgrade it to interstate standards.

Part of the I-69 Finish Line project, INDOT chose to fully close the stretch of highway to complete the work quicker and improve the safety of workers and motorists.

The complete closure, INDOT officials felt, would allow the work along the 5-mile stretch from the Indian Creek Bridge to the Ind. 37/Morgan Street intersection to be completed in one construction season.

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I-69 Finish Line Project Manager Sarah Rubin told the Reporter-Times on Thursday that the highway is anticipated to reopen by the end of the 2021 construction season.

"It is currently, I would say, too early to predict a specific date because it is very much driven by weather, it is driven by the timing in which our surcharge areas will release," Rubin said. "We are hopeful in the upcoming weeks we will be able to refine that (date) down a little bit more."

Once the highway reopens, Rubin anticipates that much of the portion of roadway that is currently closed in Martinsville will be classified as an interstate.

"We expect to have our authorization to shield I-69 from, essentially, the limits of Section 5 south of Indian Creek all the way up to just north of State Road 44," Rubin noted. "So, our plan is to have that shielded as I-69 when we open to traffic this year." 

The state has started the process of reclassifying the closed stretch of highway to I-69, but has yet to receive official authorization from the Federal Highway Administration.

Once the highway is reopened, Rubin said that there will still be construction crews and equipment working along the 5-mile stretch in a number of capacities.

"We have guardrail that will be placed in locations, we have cable barriers that will be placed in locations on the median and sometimes the exact timing of that is weather dependent," Rubin said.

She also noted that striping will need to be completed along the path, and depending on the weather those initial markings could be temporary.

"While people will be able to navigate using I-69 once we open to traffic later this year, there will be periodic instances they will see construction work happening in proximity to the mainline," Rubin noted.

Colder season

Despite the arrival of colder temperatures with the onset of fall and eventual return of winter, construction along the future I-69 corridor continues at a steady pace. 

"Certainly we have paving operations that are in place to pave the new lanes," Rubin said. "Some of those lanes are concrete, some of those lanes are asphalt."

Around the area of Ind. 252, soil has been placed to help pack down the dirt that will go under future roadway.

As of Thursday, INDOT is waiting on the soil around the future Ind. 252 interchange to settle.

"Once we are able to remove that material, then we will be able to start doing our subgrade treatment and our paving operations," Rubin noted.

INDOT expects that the settlement process will be complete in the coming weeks.

Looking ahead

While work on the mainline of I-69 through Martinsville will largely be complete by the end of 2021, INDOT will continue some work throughout the city in 2022. 

Work that is anticipated to take place next year includes the Rogers Road roundabout near the Ind. 39 interchange, resurfacing along Southview Drive between Ohio Street and Burton Lane and resurfacing of Hospital Drive from the Ind. 252 interchange and Morgan Street.

INDOT will also work on resurfacing Morgan Street from Ind. 37 to Ind. 39, which is part of a separate contract.

"We refer to it as one of our post-closure contracts," Rubin said. "And that contract will let next July, and that is essentially four resurfacing of Morgan Street over to 39."

Heading north

The I-69 Finish Line project stretches more than 26 miles from Martinsville's south side to I-465 on the southwest side of Indianapolis.

In 2021, contractors built new bridges and repaved the lanes along southbound Ind. 37 from Ind. 144 in Johnson County to Morgan Street.

Once that work was complete, that same work moved over to the northbound lanes of the highway.

When the highway is reopened in Martinsville later this year, the detour that INDOT currently utilizes of Ind. 144, Ind. 67 and Ind. 39, will no longer be necessary.

"Once the detour turns off, then the Contract 4 contractor will be able to start their work at the State Road 144," Rubin noted.

I-69 Finish Line was divided into five separate contracts for the Martinsville to Indianapolis stretch.

The future County Line Road interchange between Marion and Johnson counties is currently under construction.

"We have built part of the connector road from the (County Line Road) interchange over to Wicker Road," Rubin said.

Crews will also start pile driving operations at the future Southport Road interchange.

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"The piles are essentially what go into the ground, and then we build the bridge piers around those steel pilings," Rubin added.

Heading into 2022 and 2023, work along the corridor in Marion County will be focused on Ind. 37.

Once complete, I-69 will tie into I-465 on the southwest side of Indianapolis.

"We are not able to work on 465 until the North Split detour ceases," Rubin said.

For now, INDOT can work on bridges that go over I-465, like the Keystone Avenue Bridge.

The state also plans additional work on other roads that go over Indianapolis' beltway like Mooresville and Mann roads.

"When the North Split's detour ends, we will be able to focus our efforts on I-465," Rubin said.


One important component of the I-69 project is the aesthetics of various features of the future interstate.

Some of these aesthetic features include the monuments being constructed at Ind. 39 and Ind. 44, the Grand Valley Overpass and brick design for sound barriers as well as other walls along the highway.

Related: INDOT dedicates I-69 monument along Ind. 44.

Rubin noted that the aesthetics potion of a project is important.

"We want communities to embrace the fact that we are there," she said.

The Federal Highway Administration, Rubin added, allows INDOT the opportunity to utilize Context Sensitive Solutions.

Context Sensitive Solutions brings local stakeholders together to create a plan for the aesthetics of a highway project.

"That really gives us the flexibility to be able to do things like gateways or monuments or supplemental signage," Rubin said.

On Oct. 7, INDOT dedicated the monument that is currently being built at the future Ind. 44 interchange.

The Grand Valley Overpass is also nominated for two industry awards, one of which can be voted on by anybody at until 11:59 p.m. on Monday, Oct. 25.

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