CLARK COUNTY — Next week, drivers will notice lanes opening up on Interstate 65 after two years of construction.
New lanes on the east side of I-65 between mile markers 8 and 11.2 will open overnight Tuesday. Currently, northbound traffic is routed to the southbound side of the interstate.
The switch will result in two lanes of traffic in each direction, marking the return to normal flow since construction began last spring.
Later that week, or possibly early the next, the two inside lanes will open once median guardrails are installed.
It'll be the first time drivers will travel on six lanes on this section of I-65, between Sellersburg and just north of Memphis Road.
"It's going to be open interstate," said Indiana Department of Transportation spokesman Harry Maginity. "Six lanes, which means there's more capacity for the highway. It's going to be 12-foot lanes with very generous shoulders, so I think we set a new standard for safety and for traffic flow.
"This capacity's going to be wonderful. This is taking us on into the next 25, 30 years."
The $67 million I-65 widening project was part of former Gov. Mike Pence's Major Moves 2020 program, which sought to expand heavily traveled interstates reaching 50 years of age.
The project included the addition of one new lane in each direction, as well as the widening and reconstruction of eight interstate bridges, or four in both directions. Construction began in April 2016.
Crews will come back late next spring, likely in May, to place a new surface on the road. Maginity said laying the type of pavement that will be used in this project requires warmer temperatures.
"So it just made sense to build the road up like we have ... [and] to come back when the temperature establishes itself," he said.
Maginity anticipates this work will last about a month, requiring likely no more than one-lane closures at a time.
Drivers may notice some work between now and then, as crews remove median crossover pavement that was temporarily set up during construction. This work "wont impact in any great way traffic, if at all," Maginity said.
This section of I-65 was built in 1957. Not only did the road need to be replaced, but today's traffic counts warranted additional capacity, Maginity said.
"If you look at what the state of Indiana is doing, we're taking those sections of I-65 that are worn out, we're rebuilding them and replacing them with six lanes," he said.