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Indiana DOT’s $471M Clear Path 465 Project to Transform Busy Indianapolis Interchange

by: Mark Bird
An aerial image shows an overview of the I-465/I-69 interchange, where a multi-year, two-phase construction project is currently underway.
An aerial image shows an overview of the I-465/I-69 interchange, where a multi-year, two-phase construction project is currently underway.
Aerial image of the new bridge connecting I-69 southbound to I-465 westbound
Aerial image of the new bridge connecting I-69 southbound to I-465 westbound
Aerial image of I-69 southbound to the I-465 westbound/southbound ramp with new pavement
Aerial image of I-69 southbound to the I-465 westbound/southbound ramp with new pavement
The Clear Path 465 crew works on new pavement on the I-69 southbound to I-465 westbound bridge.
The Clear Path 465 crew works on new pavement on the I-69 southbound to I-465 westbound bridge.
A dual paving operation is performed with a Gomaco GHP-2800.
A dual paving operation is performed with a Gomaco GHP-2800.
Essential pavement repairs are performed along I-465 northbound.
Essential pavement repairs are performed along I-465 northbound.
Indiana's Clear Path 465 Project is a multi-year, two-phase construction project that is transforming one of the state's most heavily-traveled interchanges, I-465 and I-69 on the northeast side of Indianapolis. The project is designed to improve traffic flow and safety, and includes added travel lanes, new ramp lanes, 14 new bridges, two rehabilitated bridges, maintenance work, interchange modifications, and high-speed, high-capacity ramps — increasing the capacity of the two interstates and allowing higher speeds and smoother merging, while decreasing the existing problem of cars weaving in and out of traffic.

The estimated cost of the Indiana Department of Transportation (INDOT) project is $471 million. Clear Path 465 is funded with a combination of state and federal transportation funds, including a $70 million Infrastructure for Rebuilding America grant awarded in 2021. Construction began in early 2022, and the improvements are expected to be open to traffic by the end of 2025.

Clear Path 465 is a commuter corridor in northeast Indianapolis encompassing multiple counties. The route sees both heavy truck and commercial traffic and passes through a mix of commercial and residential areas. It is a vital connector for the city, with commuters using the route to travel both to and from work in downtown Indianapolis. Carrying about 120,000 vehicles daily, the I-465 and I-69 interchange is one of the busiest in Indiana. By 2040, the projected average daily traffic will be more than 166,000 vehicles.

The development of the Clear Path 465 Project stems from insufficient capacity that causes backups during the peak hours and safety concerns due to a high volume of crashes within the project area. The area has seen significant growth in recent years, but the interchange has not kept pace with significant traffic growth since its original construction nearly 50 years ago. INDOT has discussed improvements along the route for nearly two decades.

“INDOT and the state of Indiana continue to deliver infrastructure improvements for Hoosiers and the millions of motorists who rely on the more than 29,000 lane miles of highways INDOT maintains. Clear Path 465 is a perfect example of that,” INDOT Commissioner Mike Smith said. “... We saw the congestion and safety issues affecting this busy interchange, and we’re investing the dollars needed to improve the safe movement of our traveling public and the efficient movement of freight. Indiana prides itself on consistently placing in the top five in the nation in CNBC’s America’s Top States for Business rankings. We are stronger than ever when it comes to infrastructure, and Clear Path is one of many major projects making a big difference.”

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“This is infrastructure that needed to be upgraded and updated,” INDOT Project Manager Brian Shattuck said. “While we’re making those improvements, we’re doing a lot to organize the traffic in a smarter, safer way. We are removing those dangerous weaves that can lead to crashes. The end result will be better, smoother traffic movements that will improve the commute and deliver a safer drive for the tens of thousands of drivers who are relying on this interchange each and every day.”

This project will also support the future national I-69 corridor from the Canadian border in Michigan to the Mexican border in Texas. Construction of the Indiana section of I-69 is nearing completion and is expected to open to traffic late this year, providing an important commuting corridor to connect Indianapolis with numerous large communities in the state.

“Clear Path 465 is creating a free flowing I-69 approaching I-465 in central Indiana, with safety as the focal point of the interchange, improving travel in the area for years to come,” Shattuck said.

Tri-Venture Takes on Two Phases
Parsons Corporation is the project's lead planning and design firm. A tri-venture consisting of E&B Paving of Muncie, Indiana; Rieth-Riley Construction of Goshen, Indiana; and Gradex of Nora, Indiana, received the first contract in December 2021. Construction began in the spring of 2022. The second contract was awarded to the same tri-venture in early 2023, with work on that phase beginning soon thereafter.

The project was divided into two contracts for project delivery. The first contract is rebuilding and adding lanes to 4.5 miles of I-465 from the White River to Fall Creek. The second contract started construction in early 2023 to reconfigure the interchange at I-465 and I-69. New ramps will provide direct movements from eastbound I-465 and northbound I-465 to northbound I-69. Binford Boulevard will also be reconstructed to separate local traffic from traffic entering and exiting I-69 and I-465.

The Allisonville Road bridge deck overlay was completed in 2022. A new and redesigned I-69 southbound to I-465 westbound system ramp opened to traffic in December 2023. Traffic is on new pavement along I-465 westbound from I-69 to White River. The new I-465 northbound to I-69 northbound ramp opened in early 2024.

While most of the equipment being utilized on Clear Path 465 is common to construction projects, there are some notable pieces. A Bid-Well paver is used to do bridge deck concrete paving, and a Gomaco GHP-2800 is used to complete a special lane paving operation where two lanes of pavement are paved at the same time.

Hurdles on the Road to Transformation
Even before construction on the Clear Path 465 Project began, the project team had to address one significant issue. A cemetery that dated back to 1841 was located within the project limits, along I-465 southbound. INDOT called in experts to carefully relocate the cemetery.

While most work along I-465 is being done within the existing right-of-way, 14 acres of new land needed to be purchased for the project. Additionally, four businesses had to be relocated and seven buildings were demolished. An Environmental Assessment for the project indicated that 1.84 miles across 16 streams, 6 acres of wetlands, and 20.5 acres of trees would be impacted. INDOT is utilizing the Indiana Stream and Wetland Mitigation Program to alleviate these impacts.

From the outset, one big challenge was the need to build within a limited footprint while maintaining high daily traffic volumes. A traffic management plan was developed and activated by the department prior to the start of construction. During the week, the existing number of traffic lanes is maintained, with nighttime and weekend work scheduled. The left lane of northbound/westbound I-465 has crossed over the median for a temporary express lane for cars only, with no access to exits. The temporary express lane and limited long-term ramp closures are minimizing delays for interstate traffic.

Other challenges cited by the project team include limited access points to the work site, along with supply chain issues that required longer lead times for concrete, steel, panel signs, and MSE wall panels. In the fall of 2023, an essential pavement repair operation just south of the Clear Path 465 corridor also impacted traffic in the area.

Public Outreach is Essential
While such a complex project is underway, traffic management and keeping the public informed are essential, according to Betsy Whitmore, INDOT Major Projects Communications.

“When you’re working in one of the busiest interchanges in the state, it’s extremely important to share timely and reliable information with the traveling public,” Whitmore said. “We know that major construction can be a challenge for motorists to navigate, especially in such a busy intersection. Part of telling the Clear Path story is also reminding motorists that orange barrels are also a sign of progress. When those barrels are gone, drivers are going to enjoy a safer and more efficient commute.”

“Stakeholder outreach is critical to the success of the INDOT Clear Path 465 Project,” said Alex Lee, Parsons Public Involvement Lead. “The project communications team has been coordinating with multiple stakeholders including a major hospital complex — [which] delivers the most babies in the state — and one of the major malls in central Indiana. The project team also has a robust outreach platform that extends and 'spiders' out to locals and through travelers. A great example of this is Binford Redevelopment and Growth [BRAG] ... that sends our information to its members, who then share information with their stakeholders.” The BRAG area covers 35,000 residents and over 350 businesses.

In addition, there is a dedicated project website, clearpath465.com, that highlights project news and progress, along with traffic news. There are also social media channels, and regular e-blasts to a subscription list that totals around 9,500.

Making a Positive Impact
The Clear Path 465 Project — with its added lanes, reconfigured interchanges, and the separation of interstate and local traffic through the I-465/I-69 interchange — will dramatically improve traffic flow, safety, and efficiency in a congested area and a busy Indiana corridor, thus keeping up with continued growth on the northeast side of Indianapolis.

“It’s incredibly gratifying to be a part of a project that is having such an impact on the community and will improve the future commute of more than 120,000 drivers each and every day,” Parsons Project Manager Mark Perron said. “The movements that used to bottleneck the interchange are now going to be put on new pavement and redirected. That separation is going to help traffic flow a lot smoother. More lanes also mean more capacity, which will also assist with the traffic flow. Being a part of this project from concept and design to the reality of construction has been very rewarding. I’ll always be able to drive through it and know that our team played a role in building it, and that’s very special.”

Photos courtesy of Clear Path 465

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