The Indiana Department of Transportation plans to install Wayne County’s first roundabouts.
Two roundabouts are included in the new-look Interstate 70 interchange with U.S. 40 on Richmond’s east side. That reconstruction is part of the Revive I-70 project that will impact I-70 throughout its 20-plus miles in Wayne County, then extend to Indianapolis. INDOT representatives unveiled project specifics for the Richmond-area first phase during an Aug. 9 public meeting attended by more than 40 people at Indiana University East.
The interchange reconstruction removes the loop ramps from westbound I-70 to westbound U.S. 40 and from eastbound U.S. 40 to eastbound I-70. Instead, regular entrance and exit ramps will connect to U.S. 40 at roundabouts west and east of the interstate.
INDOT expects the roundabouts to slow U.S. 40 traffic and allow all traffic to flow smoothly and continuously.
“I know sometimes you hear roundabout, and it’s like, ‘Oh no, not a roundabout,’ and there can be some anxiety, there can be some concerns,” said Mindy Peterson, the project’s public involvement director for Parsons, an infrastructure solutions provider.
She added that roundabouts have been proven to work effectively, and education efforts will orient local drivers with navigating the roundabouts.
Loop ramps will remain at the U.S. 35 interchange with I-70, but reconstruction will increase eastbound and westbound acceleration and deceleration distances. Westbound tractor-trailers exiting onto southbound U.S. 35 currently have insufficient room to decelerate, and that’s caused some to tip when negotiating the loop ramp.
Revive I-70’s first phase, which stretches about 8 miles from west of that interchange to the Ohio border, will include additions of a third travel lane in each direction. The new lanes will be constructed in the current median, which reduces the right of way necessary to purchase.
“We’re trying to hold the outside edges and work our way to the inside,” said John LaBlonde, the deputy project manager for Parsons.
Each direction of the new I-70 will have a 12-foot shoulder on the outside, with three 12-foot-wide travel lanes and a 14-foot shoulder on the inside. Cement medians will separate eastbound from westbound.
LaBlonde said the entire roadway will be repaved with long-lasting pavement that INDOT hopes will last 60 to 70 years. During construction, which is expected to begin late in 2024, two lanes in each direction are planned to remain open during peak travel times.
Revive I-70 will move from the eastern end of the county to the western for the second phase. That will include about nine miles from west of Indiana 1 to west of Centerville Road. INDOT expects to begin that phase in 2025, followed by the four-mile middle phase in 2026 or 2027.
What the second and third phases officially entail is not yet finalized, but additional traffic lanes are expected. INDOT expects 36 bridges in the project zone will be widened to accommodate the additional lanes.
Overall, 41 bridges will receive improvements, including six with full replacements, 15 with major rehabilitations, 14 with deck overlays and six with preventive maintenance.
While the two public meetings so far — Jan. 23 and Aug. 9 — have enabled residents to provide one-on-one feedback and receive information, a fall public hearing will be scheduled for residents to officially address INDOT about the project with statements that will become part of the project history.
Presentation materials, other project information and a feedback form are available at revivei70.com.
A version of this article appeared in the August 16 2023 print edition of the Western Wayne News.