A section of State Road 46 will be closed southeast of Columbus starting Monday and remain off-limits to traffic until early November.
The bridge over Fishers Fork, about one mile east of U.S. 31, will undergo extensive renovations as part of a $1.4 million project, said Harry Maginity, Indiana Department of Transportation spokesman.
Work on the 102-foot-long structure will include a new deck as well as updated pavement approaches and guardrails, Maginity said.
Although the closing is scheduled to last no more than 60 days, another bridge on State Road 46 several miles to the east will be closed next year for similar work, the INDOT spokesman said.
People who live in nearby residential neighborhoods such as Shiloh Village, Midway and Hamer Heights are expected to use unofficial detours that utilize local rural roads, Bartholomew County Highway engineer Danny Hollander said.
One such detour would be traveling southeast on State Road 7, then going north on County Road 600E past Ceraland to rejoin State Road 46 East. That’s five miles from one side of the closing to the other.
In sharp contrast, the official detour from the Department of Transportation directs traffic south on U.S. 31 to Seymour, east on U.S. 50 to North Vernon, onto the new North Vernon bypass to State Road 3, north to State Road 46 near Greensburg and then west back into Bartholomew County.
That’s an 81-mile circular tour though Bartholomew, Jackson, Jennings and Decatur counties from the west side of the closing to the east side.
While that may seem absurd to some, Maginity explained that INDOT only designates state and federal highways as official detours as a way to keep large commercial vehicles from damaging local roads maintained by city and county governments.
“We understand that local residents will probably have other ways to get around the closure,” Maginty said.
Hollander suggests those same residents share their preferred shortcuts with expected out-of-town visitors before they arrive in the region.