U.S. 31 closes at Southern Crossing for construction

U.S. 31 at Southern Crossing has closed, and will remain closed for up to two months as a new roundabout it built.

Delays in the area have been reported as semi drivers who did not receive word about the closing on Wednesday have blocked the roadway attempting to turn their rigs around on the highway.

The roundabout is needed to reduce serious injuries at the accident-prone intersection, said Harry Maginity, spokesman for the Indiana Department of Transportation.

While detours have been marked for months, the last-minute closing confirmation announced late Wednesday may take many motorists by surprise.

Originally, state highway engineers planned to wait until next year to install the roundabout, said Danny Hollander, Bartholomew County highway engineer.

But when Rep. Milo Smith, R-Columbus, met with deputy INDOT commissioner Anthony McClellan in February, the deputy commissioner said it made sense to do the project now.

That’s because U.S. 31 is undergoing an $8.4 million renovation in southern Bartholomew County and northern Jackson County, Hollander said.

Although INDOT made the decision to move up the project to this year in April, engineers just decided late last week to start the road closing today, Maginity said.

Because of a communications mixup, the road closing announcement was delayed until late Wednesday, Maginity said.

Extra incentive funds will be provided to Milestone Contractors if their crews can reopen the intersection as a roundabout in just 45 days, Maginity said.

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Mark Webber is a reporter for The Republic. He can be reached at mwebber@therepublic.com or 812-379-5636.