Updated Feb. 2016
US 31 Frequently Asked Questions
What is the timeline for constructing US 31 through Hamilton County?
Construction began in 2011 and, with the accelerated schedule, the entire corridor was substantially completed in 2015 with all mainline improvements open to traffic from north of I-465 in Indianapolis/Carmel to SR 38 in Westfield. Remaining work, such as some landscaping and clean-up will be performed through 2017 with as minimal impacts to traffic as possible.
All $722 million in Major Moves construction contracts are substantially complete between Indianapolis and South Bend. The new 13-mile US 31 Kokomo Freeway opened to traffic in November 2013. The 20-mile US 31 corridor between Plymouth and South Bend opened to traffic in late 2014. The $350 million US 31 Hamilton County project upgrades 13 miles of existing US 31 between I-465 in Carmel and State Road 38 near Westfield, including 11 new interchanges. With these improvements, a total of 32 traffic signals have been removed from the drive, saving approximately 30 minutes of travel time.
Since 2008, The New US 31 Hamilton County team regularly communicated with businesses throughout the corridor, in an effort to help them prepare for construction. The team regularly offered tailored presentations to businesses/groups, hosted more than 100 group presentations and annual public open houses – the most recent open house was held on March 25, 2015. The open house presentation can be found here.
In addition to these meetings, the project team provided regular communications to businesses and the public via e-newsletters, updates INDOT East Central District’s Facebook and Twitter pages, sent mailers to businesses along the corridor, provided real-time construction updates on the project website and used a text messaging service to keep the public updated (text ROADS to 411247 to subscribe to the texting program; standard texting rates apply).
No, the large truck ban on Keystone Parkway was reinstated in April 2016.
The New US 31 Hamilton County project, as well as the US 31 projects in Kokomo and near South Bend were funded through federal and state transportation dollars as part of former Gov. Daniels’ Major Moves program. The money came from the long-term lease of the Indiana Toll Road as part of the program the Governor launched in 2005. The estimated construction cost of this project is $350 million.
The accident rate for a freeway is lower than that for a non-freeway facility, such as the existing US 31 corridor.
The improved US 31 in Hamilton County is designed for a 55 mph speed limit.
Major east-west arterial roads cross The New US 31 Hamilton County corridor either by an underpass or overpass. Click here to see an overview of the crossroads and interchanges that have changed with the new alignment.
INDOT conducts reviews of properties affected by highway projects to determine whether hazardous or regulated materials are present that could affect the project. Standard procedures are put in place to protect public health and worker safety. Any contaminated materials that must be removed from the site are managed in consultation with the Indiana Department of Environmental Management (IDEM) and disposed of appropriately at a licensed facility.
The final selected road design required a mitigation plan to address the environmental impacts to wetlands and forests. Wetland mitigation, replacement or restoration, is based on requirements set forth in Section 404 of the Clean Water Act (33 U.S.C 1344). The agreed mitigation ratios of acres of replacement/restoration to impacted acres varies by wetland quality, location, size, function and value.
The Final Environmental Impact Study gathered data from noise receptors and compared existing noise levels to the anticipated levels for the year 2035. When traffic (especially trucks) is not stopping and restarting, as will be the case on the new freeway, noise levels are generally improved. Based on the analysis and feedback from the local governments, the only noise wall for this project was installed near 181st Street.
Throughout design and construction, INDOT worked closely with local emergency responders to ensure a local access plan is in place at all times to accommodate emergency vehicles.
Hamilton County is a leader in Indiana bike and pedestrian trails, and that will continue through the US 31 project. Some form of east-west pedestrian access was included at all grade-separated crossings of US 31 in Hamilton County. The project perpetuates the Monon and Cool Creek trail crossings in Carmel and several trails in Westfield. The addition of pedestrian and multi-use paths provides residents with alternative modes of transportation.
As stated in the US 31 Hamilton County Supplemental Draft Environmental Impact Statement (SDEIS) published in May 2008, “The Mass Transit Alternative continues to not address the purpose and need of this project as a ‘stand alone’ alternative because it would not significantly reduce congestion or improve safety.” The New US 31 Hamilton County project’s goal is to improve travel times, safety and reliability for all vehicular traffic – including the Carmel Express Bus – and does not preclude future transit improvements in the area.
How is “fair market value” calculated for land acquisition? Are homeowners compensated for only their property, or also the cost of moving and taking time off work?
All property acquired by INDOT follows the guidelines of the Uniform Relocation Assistance and Real Property Acquisition Policies Act of 1970 and appraisal industry requirements (Uniform Standards of Professional Appraisal Practice). Government programs designed to benefit the public as a whole often result in acquisition of private property, which prompted the passage of the Uniform Act in 1971.
The Uniform Act contains important protections and assistance for people affected by federally funded projects. This law ensures that people whose real property is acquired, or who move as a result of projects receiving federal funds, will be treated fairly and equitably and will receive assistance in moving from the property they occupy. Homeowners are compensated for the cost of moving but not for time taken off work to relocate.
INDOT complies with the Uniform Act when purchasing right of way for its projects. There is no compensation unless the property is located within the right of way or reasonable access to the property cannot be maintained. Damages are paid only for a property if the proposed right of way takes a portion of the property, causing that parcel to lose value. Those property owners who do not have all or a portion of their parcels purchased will not receive compensation.
Why was the decision made to construct roundabout interchanges at 106th and 116th streets, rather than diamond interchanges?
Throughout the design process, the interchanges at 106th and 116th streets have been presented as two options: diamond and roundabout interchange types. The Indiana Department of Transportation (INDOT), in collaboration with the City of Carmel and the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), decided in October 2012 to move forward with plans to construct roundabouts at the interchanges
Direct access to Keystone Parkway via 146th Street was not included as part of The New US 31 Hamilton County project. Motorists traveling eastbound on 146th street are able to access southbound Keystone Parkway by turning left from 146th Street onto the collector-distributor road that runs alongside northbound US 31, turning left on 151st Street, and then turning left (south) on the collector-distributor road to the US 31/Keystone Parkway southbound slip ramp.
Motorists wishing to travel on southbound Keystone Parkway from westbound 146th Street may do so by following the same route turning right onto the collector-distributor road, left on 151st Street and left on the collector-distributor road onto southbound Keystone Parkway.
The proximity of Keystone Parkway to 146th Street limits the flexibility of the design. Providing access to both Clay Terrace Boulevard and Keystone Parkway would have created serious safety concerns related to weaving traffic on the ramps between 146th Street and Clay Terrace Boulevard. As a result of the serious safety concerns, the available options were to provide either (but not both):
A) Direct access from US 31 to Keystone Parkway and Clay Terrace Boulevard or
B) Direct access from 146th Street to US 31 and Keystone Parkway
Because there is an available route from 146th Street to Keystone Parkway (although it is more circuitous), it was determined after consultation with the public, local governmental agencies, and the business owners that the best option was to provide direct access from US 31 and 146th Street to Clay Terrace Boulevard/Range Line Road.
All ramp and merging areas have been thoroughly analyzed and they are in line with INDOT and Federal requirements. The team has also coordinated with elected officials and Community Advisory Committee members to gather feedback on the designs.
While it looks complex on paper, the system is such that the traffic volumes on each of the individual ramps will be significantly lower than a simpler configuration. The lower volumes will result in safer operations on those ramps, with more time allowed for the motorists to make decisions. In addition, considerable time will be spent on the development of a clear, concise signage system that conveys guidance patterns effectively to motorists.
INDOT’s rolling four-year capital program is investing hundreds of millions of dollars in upgrades to US 31 bottlenecks near South Bend, Kokomo and Hamilton County. Work has already been completed at the northern limits of The New US 31 Hamilton County project at the SR 38 interchange. In 2014, INDOT announced a separate project to build a new US 31 interchange at State Road 28 near Tipton, Ind. No additional projects have been announced to upgrade US 31 between Westfield and Kokomo.
Any upgrades to the 96th Street/Keystone Parkway intersection would be done under the jurisdiction of the City of Carmel.