INDOT plans to expand I-70 to six lanes starting at the Ohio/Indiana border
Public meetings are scheduled for Monday and Tuesday to talk about improving and expanding Interstate 70 from Cambridge City to the Ohio/Indiana state line.
Revive I-70 aims to reduce congestion and improve traffic flow and safety along the 20-plus mile corridor.
"We're looking at travel lanes, we're looking at bridge replacements, we're looking at pavement processes, and then some drainage replacements as well," says Kyleigh Cramer, public relations director for the Indiana Department of Transportation.
The project includes improvements to the interchanges with US 40 and US 35, too.
The biggest problem, Cramer says, is congestion.
"I-70 goes through a huge part of the U.S. and Indiana. We're seeing a lot of people on this road," she says. "We're also seeing a lot of people traveling — whether it be from Ohio to Indiana, Indiana to Ohio — we're just seeing a lot more congestion on this road. And, with that, we're seeing a lot more [back ups] and people not getting to their destinations efficiently."
There's debate nationwide about the efficacy of adding lanes to ease congestion. That's playing out loudly in Texas, where residents and groups have been opposing several widening projects. They argue research shows adding lanes, while successful in the short-term, ultimately leads to more drivers and additional congestion.
An online tool called the SHIFT (State Highway Induced Frequency of Travel) Calculator explores how the concept of induced demand affects highway congestion. In short, "as supply increases and incurred costs decline, demand will increase. This phenomenon has been widely observed and studied in transportation systems where highways have been expanded to alleviate road congestion problems."
Cramer says INDOT has "found differently."
"INDOT has found that adding travel lanes does help with congestion," she says. "I can promise you, the last thing that we want to do is go into a site, a 20-plus mile corridor, and spend a bunch of money on something that won't work. That's why we go through such a long and strenuous process of ensuring that this will work."
Construction is slated to begin in late 2024.
INDOT officials plan to introduce the construction plan. Attendees can share feedback, ask questions, and meet one-on-one with transportation employees.
Monday, Jan. 23, 5:30-7 p.m.
Indiana University East | Whitewater Hall
2325 Chester Boulevard, Richmond, IN
Tuesday, Jan. 24, 6 p.m.