Five days a week, truck drivers Matt Selby and Cary Wall haul steel to Northwest Indiana plants, and no matter the destination, their trip takes them through the construction zone on the Borman Expressway.
The pair drives the stretch at least once a day, and congestion caused by the Interstate 80/94 project adds an hour to their drive time.
It adds quite a bit of time, but in the long run, it will help us," Wall said. "It's kind of a double-edged sword ... We try to space it out between rush hours and drive it early morning or late at night."
The end is in sight on the final leg of the marathon Borman Expressway project. The last element of the massive reconstruction project, which spans back to 2003, is the $189 million Major Moves interchange modification.
The project that began in 2007 rebuilt much of the Interstate 65 interchange over the Borman Expressway. Instead of restricting traffic for two years, the state closed I-65 between the Borman and 15th Avenue for nine months beginning in March 2008.
Work on widening I-80/94 from six to 10 lanes between Broadway and Central Avenue began in fall 2009. Crews now are widening the medians on the stretch and will switch to the westbound lanes in late May, according to Indiana Department of Transportation spokeswoman Angie Fegaras.
INDOT will release specific detour details when crews move to the westbound lanes, but Fegaras expects Central Avenue's exit onto the westbound Borman will temporarily close.
Beyond the widening, Fegaras said no major roadwork is planned on the Borman, and state officials expect the work to accommodate traffic for the next 20 years.
"Everything is still on schedule," Fegaras said. "With crews, a lot are working double shifts and many times are working on Saturdays trying to get it done quickly."
Truck driver Dan Heskin tries to make it through the stretch before 2 p.m. before traffic backs up. He's a veteran of driving through Chicago to Wisconsin, so he's become numb to how much congestion adds to his route. "It's always bad, so I really can't say so," said Heskin, stopped at a gas station in Lake Station. "I'm so used to coming to Chicago. It really depends on the time of day -- early afternoon and evenings are not as bad."
Throughout the interchange modification project, the Borman experienced what Northwestern Indiana Regional Planning Commission Transportation Planning Manager Bill Brown described as typical construction-related slow downs.
"It's normal to have that in a construction zone," Brown said. "You don't want people to try to go through there at regular highway speeds. They shouldn't be."
The Borman Expressway becomes dangerous especially when trucks or vehicles speed up to make it through the construction zone, according to Selby. "A lot of these cars are impatient and trucks, too," said Selby, who hauls steel from Indianapolis to ArcelorMittal in East Chicago and Burns Harbor.
The Cline Avenue bridge also exasperated the pair, so they've resorted to taking either U.S. 20 or paying for the Indiana Toll Road.
"Wherever we pick up," he said, "more or less we have to come through here."