By Adam Aasen
With soon-to-be-complete construction work on U.S. 31, Carmel planners expect increased traffic to businesses in the coming months.
As a result, Carmel announced plans to redevelop Main Street near the U.S. 32 interchange, with a $4.4 million project that boasts additional lanes, enhanced roundabouts and new sidewalks. Preliminary work has begun with the real construction to start in the fall.
The Main Street roundabouts at Illinois and Old Meridian will also be expanded to allow for two lanes of traffic. The project also calls for new utility lines, curbs, gutters and storm sewers.
“This is a rapidly changing area and this project is designed to improve the infrastructure needed to handle what we predict will be a much higher volume of traffic,” City Engineer Jeremy Kashman said.
Although some might be concerned about beginning new roadwork near U.S. 31 before the other construction is complete, Mayor Jim Brainard said this timeline is the best way to ease any pain.
“It really shouldn’t affect it because it’s closed anyway,” he said. “We need to get it fixed for the long-term good and those businesses on Main Street are going to see huge increases in drive-by traffic.”
City Councilors told Current they agree with the mayor. While construction has hurt some businesses – necessitating a #31 Bites campaign aimed at helping struggling restaurants most affected – city officials say that construction is often a tough reality when growing a city.
Brainard said the good news is that this construction won’t affect the city’s budget much at all.
This project is being funded primarily by $4.2 million in state funds made available by the Indiana Department of Transportation as part of a program that allows Indiana to trade $1 in federal funds for 75 cents in state funds. This allows Carmel to begin on the project without delays and be reimbursed by INDOT without waiting on often-delayed federal funding. Existing Engineering Dept. funds and other funding sources will pay for the remaining portion.