Carmel, Ind. (September 6, 2007) - Governor Mitch Daniels and Carmel Mayor James Brainard today announced an agreement in principle for the City of Carmel to assume ownership of Keystone Avenue (State Road 431) from 96th Street to U.S. 31.
"Hamilton County will get a major transportation improvement sooner and the state's taxpayers save money in the long run," Daniels said. "Mayor Brainard has again shown the imagination that is making his a great new Hoosier city."
The Indiana Department of Transportation (INDOT) pegged the long-term costs of upgrading Keystone Avenueat more than $150 million. Tentative terms of the agreement call for INDOT to provide Carmel with $90 million, in installments, to reconstruct and redesign the road. Carmel's plan addresses long-term mainline traffic issues and significantly improves east-west mobility at a much lower cost. The agreement will not affect the funding for any of the state's Major Moves projects.
Carmel will pursue a federal earmark for the balance of the project. Once the agreement is final, the city will be responsible, in perpetuity, for maintenance, snow-removal and mowing.
The city's construction plan calls for lowering Keystone Avenue at major intersections and building elevated roundabouts. When completed, Keystone Avenue will be free flowing without any signals within the city. Drivers on east-west cross-streets, such as 116th Street, will use the roundabouts instead of having to stop for signals.
"This innovative design will link our community in new ways," Brainard said. "Having Keystone run below cross street roundabout intersections, used for ingress and egress to Keystone, will improve the safety of this roadway exponentially. This design is also more pedestrian friendly and drivers will no longer wait in long lines for stoplights to turn green."
City officials plan to break ground on the project in early 2008. Local officials will work with residents, businesses and churches to minimize construction disruptions by using innovative construction solutions. The Keystone Avenue project will be complete before the state's $500 million upgrade to U.S. 31 in Hamilton County begins in 2011. Carmel has invested nearly $35 million in local funds to upgrade Pennsylvania and Illinois streets to prepare for the U.S. 31 improvements.
"We have been talking with the state for more than a decade about Keystone and we are at this point today only because of Governor Daniels' leadership," Brainard added. "This is a great example of state and local government cooperation for the benefit of everyone."
INDOT works with communities to relinquish highways when they become more of a local thoroughfare than an intrastate route. For example, in Indianapolis, the agency worked out agreements over several years for the city to assume ownership of all state routes and U.S. highways inside I-465 - such as Meridian and Washington streets.
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