Inspections will close I-65 ramps

Driving on State Road 46 at the Interstate 65 interchange is about to get complicated, again.

Beginning at noon Monday, the four ramps that enter or exit under the double-arch bridge will be closed for four days for a bridge inspection.

That includes:

I-65 northbound to State Road 46 westbound

I-65 southbound to State Road 46 eastbound

State Road 46 westbound to I-65 southbound

State Road 46 eastbound to I-65 northbound

In addition, crews will close one lane of Jonathan Moore Pike (State Road 46) in each direction at the bridge for four days.

Hours for the restrictions reflect the Indiana Department of Transportation’s hopes to create minimum interference for morning work commuters, INDOT spokesman Harry Maginity said.

Restrictions will be in place on:

Monday, from noon until 7 p.m.

Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.

The reason for the restrictions has nothing to do with the quality of work involved in last year’s $1.4 million renovations to the bridge and ramps, Maginity said.

Instead, the ramp closings and lane restrictions will allow INDOT to inspect the bridge, which is required every two years.

Long-time Bartholomew County residents may recall the double-arched bridge was the centerpiece of the $48 million Front Door Project that began in 1990. The bridge was completed in 1997.

The innovative design and construction methods incorporated into the bridge require a lengthy and thorough inspection by a specialized engineering group out of Chicago, Maginity said.

“This is a very important bridge, and it will take time to complete the job,” Maginity said.

Two lifts will be operating from Jonathan Moore Pike to allow inspectors access to the bridge structure over State Road 46.

While there are four ramps away from the bridge that will remain open, Maginity suggests northbound motorists use U.S. 31 — the official detour — and State Road 11 and County Road 450S this Monday through Thursday to avoid confusion.

Local residents have been known to avoid INDOT’s detour and instead travel to County Road 325W behind the Westhill Shopping Center, heading north to County Road 330W and finally moving east along Tannehill Road to emerge near I-65 in Taylorsville.

However, liability concerns prohibit INDOT from suggesting any detour that is not a state or federal highway, Maginity said.

After INDOT informed local governments that Friday was a rain date for the inspection, the agency received several emails about the high number of visitors expected to arrive that day for the annual Mill Race Marathon that is planned on Saturday, Maginity said.

If inclement weather causes delays, the inspectors have promised to clear out of the area no later than noon Friday — even if it means coming back later to finish their work, Maginity said.

“Actually, these guys are known to put in 11 to 12 hours day so they can finish up well ahead of schedule,” Maginity said.

Why is this bridge important?

Considered a landmark after being completed in 1997, Columbus’ double-arch bridge at the Interstate 65 interchange with State Road 46 was a finalist in the American Consulting Engineers Council’s Engineering Excellence Award competition.

Cantilevered decks are held by cables that suspend from two inclined steel arches. The shallow deck structure prevented costly changes to the interstate. The 224-foot span allowed for a single-point intersection under the bridge, which made the reconstruction of the interchange possible despite the limited space.

Traffic disruption

The following restrictions at State Road 46 and Interstate 65 will be in effect from noon until 7 p.m. Monday and from 9 a.m. until 7 p.m. Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.

All ramps that enter or exit under the double arch bridge will be closed. They are:

  • I-65 northbound to State Road 46 westbound
  • I-65 southbound to State Road 46 eastbound
  • State Road 46 westbound to I-65 southbound
  • State Road 46 eastbound to I-65 northbound

The four ramps that will remain open are:

  • I-65 northbound to State Road 46 eastbound
  • I-65 southbound to State Road 46 westbound
  • State Road 46 eastbound to I-65 southbound
  • State Road 46 westbound to I-65 northbound
Author photo
Mark Webber is a reporter for The Republic. He can be reached at mwebber@therepublic.com or 812-379-5636.