SR 37: Something is not adding up

Thursday night February 20, 2020 there was a meeting to update the public on the SR 37 project. I was unable to attend but in reading the recap of the meeting from Larry Lannan in his Larry in Fishers blog post it seems he shares my concern that something is amiss. Last August I warned that there was concern the project won't have the funding to build out the 141st interchange . At the January 31st Hamilton County Board of Commissioners meeting this was discussed along with making the 131st interchange a Right in Right out similar to the already announced 135th intersection. Here is a link to the minutes which addresses this issue on page 5. However, let me save you the time and highlight the specific issue.

Davis shared the project status update they reviewed with Council President Rick McKinney in preparation for the Council Highway Committee meeting. Davis reported they reviewed the projects out to 2024. Critical projects include SR 37. Altman reported she has been asked by the Mayor if we are committed on 141st Street or not. Davis replied we are not committed as far as he knows. Altman thinks we should decide whether we are going or not because we already know where the numbers are. Altman’s impression was we were going to jettison 141st Street in terms of major improvements to avoid costs if we had to. Davis replied there is the option to go to right-in, right-out at that location. That has not been 100% decided if that is a good thing to do from a logistic/traffic standpoint. There is a concern that if we don’t do a full interchange there the traffic will migrate to 146th and 131st and there is a question how it will impact how it has been designed at those locations. Those were designed with the theory that 141st would be an interchange. That is still a question that Fishers needs to try and get an answer to. 141st will be deferred to mid-2021 and will be the last intersection. Converting 131st and 135th to right-in, right-out are on the October letting schedule. After February 5th we will have an idea with what will happen with 146h so the numbers could change if we receive good bids. The unofficial estimate on 135th is around $31 million. In 2020 to get 131st and 135th to letting is about $9.5 million; he listed $4.6 million as overrun as the county’s share. In 2021, 141st to construct a right-in, right-out is about $7.5 million. To construct a full interchange is about $25 million. Davis listed the range as half the costs, assuming 50% each. These are all estimates. Altman asked if there is a need for additional cash, assuming the bids come in as projected? Davis replied no. They will use INDOTs $100 million and they are doing the inspection which is saving us a lot of money. So back full circle. Perhaps this is just an honest clerical mistake as there are contradictory statements in the above but it is fair to say that my concerns expressed in August are likely to come to fruition and they will eliminate the 141st interchange. What is more frightening is that they may also be forced to eliminate the 131st interchange as well. For those of you paying attention , you might note this means cross traffic will occur only at 126th and 146th thereby defeating the original canard that this project was required to improve east/west traffic in Fishers. It also means a very large number of businesses on the west side of SR 37 will be irreparably harmed or a massive tax increase is coming to pay for this mistake. Don't say you haven't been warned.

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