Indianapolis downtown highways closed

Drivers in Indianapolis can expect big disruptions as highway crews have closed a stretch of Interstates 65 and 70 in the city’s downtown this week for what’s expected to be a two-month highway project.

The stretch of highways closed to through traffic effective 12:01 a.m. Tuesday, although some exit and entrance ramps will remain open. The work is necessary to lower the highways under bridges that have been hit repeatedly by oversized trucks.

Through traffic is being detoured to Interstate 465 around the city, but drivers heading downtown will have to take new routes. The project will increase the bridge clearance to at least 14 ft., 9 in. and is due to be completed by the end of October, according to the Indiana Department of Transportation.

The state DOT reports there have been more than 400 bridge strikes since 1999 in the section, which carries an average of 109,000 vehicles a day.

“We’ve had a persistent, repeating and continuous problem of oversized loads, trucks with heights of 13 ft., 6 in. or greater, using this downtown route and striking these bridges,” agency spokesman Nathan Riggs told The Indianapolis Star.

Bridge strikes are a serious hazard, Riggs said, damaging the structures and sending debris flying onto the pavement. One strike in February fractured a beam supporting one of the bridges, causing emergency repairs that shut down north I-65 and east I-70 for a couple days.

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