As road construction continues in Carmel, Mayor Jim Brainard explained the city’s strategy for road closures moving forward.
He said he’s getting positive feedback from residents despite the three-month closure of the intersection of Range Line Road and Carmel Drive for a new roundabout.
“Actually, there have been very few questions given the amount of closings, and we saw the reopening of a few roads recently, so that was good,” he said.
Third Avenue Southwest reopened at the end of August, along with 106th Street between Spring Mill and Ditch roads. New road closures are expected in mid-September after the BMW Championship at Crooked Stick Golf Course concludes. That includes a roundabout at Pennsylvania Avenue and City Center Drive, which could end up being the city’s 100th roundabout if it’s finished in time.
As for current road closures, Brainard said businesses have adapted well. There are signs and specials to attract customers, and the city has bought advertising space to promote affected businesses near Range Line Road and Carmel Drive. He said motorists are finding their way to these establishments.
“Traffic is starting to flow,” he said. “People are figuring it out.”
Brainard said it’s better to close the intersection completely than try to keep a portion of the road open and lengthen the project timeline.
“It could take a year or more if we didn’t shut the road down,” he said. “It would be worse for the business if it was closed for a year. They don’t find alternative businesses after 90 days, but they do if it’s a year. If you totally close an intersection you can go four times as fast.”
Brainard said it’s important to complete these projects this year to keep the city’s construction schedule, because there are dozens of more roundabouts in the works.
“Next summer, we’ll have even more,” he said. “It’s going to be a rougher summer in terms of delays, so it’s important that we get done what we started this summer.”
In order to keep Range Line Road and Carmel Drive on schedule, Brainard said there are penalties for being late completing the job. He said the city often uses incentives and disincentives when finalizing construction contracts. But the mayor emphasized that the quality of the work won’t be compromised by rushing a project, adding that inspectors are out nearly every day.
“We need to know they are putting in four inches when it says four inches,” he said.
Brainard said most roundabouts take about 45 days to build, but each one is different because of the utility work underneath the road. He said Range Line Road and Carmel Drive is tricky because it has a lot of underground utilities.
“The only thing that can slow it down is if the private utility companies don’t get out of the way in a timely fashion,” he said.