Carmel’s Keystone Parkway to serve as model for new Ind. 37
By Robert Herrington
Hamilton County officials have a proposal to reduce traffic congestion and travel times along a six-mile stretch of Ind. 37 between Fishers and Noblesville by creating a freeway with roundabout intersections similar to Keystone Parkway in Carmel.
The Hamilton County Commissioners have conducted a study that advised the traffic issues and future failure of 10 intersections between I-69 and Ind. 38 would be solved with such a renovation.
Cost of the project to own and operate the roadway is estimated at $243 million during 50 years.
Estimated costs for construction and yearly costs were not available at the presentation. According to United Consulting President Dave Richter, 70 percent of the costs traditionally come from state and federal funding with the remaining 30 percent being split by local governments.
Richter said the problem needs to be addressed proactively to avoid the state, which owns the roadway, deciding the scope and schedule of the project.
“INDOT will decide which crossroads will get turn lanes and which ones don’t,” he said. “INDOT is concerned with traffic going north and south, they aren’t concerned with traffic going east and west into your communities.”
Richter said roundabout interchanges provide a solution for the next 20 to 30 years.
“It fits into the topography of the intersections,” he said. “It does not adversely affect local business.”
“Because of the work that needs to be done, there’s lots of flexibility on how this project could be handled,” said Greg Kicinski of American Structurepoint, a consultant for the study.
Kicinski said the roundabout interchanges would decrease noise and environment impact from idling vehicles. It also provides a safe pedestrian crossing at the intersections.
“It will cost taxpayers $1 billion more in the next 20 years sitting in traffic compared to Keystone if no changes are made,” Kicinski said.
Keystone Parkway, which was rebuilt in three years, has seen a 10 percent decrease in overall crashes despite a 30 percent increase in traffic. More importantly, Kicinski said personal injury crashes have been reduced 75 percent.
“There were 60 crashes in the three years (prior to the reopening) and in the last three years there have been 16,” he said. “On (Ind.) 37 there has been an increase in the number of crashes – 226 in the same stretch of years.”
Kicinski said traffic congestion, which takes 25 to 40 minutes to travel the six miles during rush hour, also will cause near failures of six intersections by 2019 and complete failures of all intersections by 2025.
Commissioners said the study has been shared with INDOT and state representatives, which are in favor of the project. The next step is to share the presentation with elected officials from Noblesville and Fishers and gain approval from each municipality. As a combined group, the county and each city will then approach INDOT and the state for approval and funding negotiations.
“I have no problem being the lead agency, but I don’t want to be the lead funding agency,” County Councilman Brad Beaver said.
Richter said that INDOT understands the problem at Ind. 37 and is likely to approve or relinquish the road if an organized plan is created and supported locally.
“Here’s what we’ve learned: communities with great plans, great ideas like this, who have realistic plans of how to get it done, they’re the ones who are the most successful at winning the support and, frankly, the funding for a project like this,” he said.