In the past decade, INDOT made major upgrades to U.S. 31 across much of Hamilton County and added a new interchange at State Road 28 near Tipton. INDOT also built new-terrain portions of the route around Kokomo, and between Plymouth and South Bend.
These improvements greatly reduced congestion and increased safety on the most heavily traveled segments of U.S. 31. Only six traffic signals remain on the 150-mile-long corridor between Indianapolis and South Bend.
Investing in Infrastructure
In 2018, Gov. Eric Holcomb’s Next Level Connections program directed $100 million to build four additional interchanges at key locations on U.S. 31. These interchanges will be built in 2021 at 236th Street in Hamilton County, and in 2023 at State Road 18 and Business 31 in Miami County, and State Road 10 in Marshall County.
INDOT’s long-term capital plan, Next Level Roads, also invests nearly $300 million on U.S. 31 to improve intersections, remove railroad overpasses, and eliminate private driveway access.
These projects will happen in phases over the next several years, beginning in 2020. Four of the new interchanges, two overpasses, and seven Reduced Conflict Intersections will be built by 2024. As a result of this investment, U.S. 31 will be a free-flow route with no traffic signals or at grade rail crossings by the end of 2026.
Along the approximately 20-mile segment of U.S. 31 between S.R. 38 in Hamilton County and S.R. 931 (South Junction) in Howard County, INDOT will enhance access control by removing all commercial and residential driveways and eliminating at-grade intersections.
Free-Flow Route Benefits
Once planned U.S. 31 improvement projects are complete, U.S. 31 motorists and residents and businesses along the route corridor will benefit:
- Travel time between Indianapolis and South Bend will be reduced and will be comparable to travel time on a freeway.
- Although U.S. 31 currently offers convenient access throughout the corridor, route capacity, reliability, and connections to other modes of transportation will be improved as interchanges, intersections, and railroad overpasses are completed.
Free-Flow vs. Freeway
INDOT can make U.S. 31 safer and remove all traffic signals and rail crossings at a fraction of the cost of upgrading the highway to freeway specifications:
- To convert U.S. 31 to a freeway would cost as much as four to five times more than INDOT’s plan, with little added benefit.
- A freeway project would require years of federally mandated environmental review that would delay
the project and needed safety improvements.
- A freeway would require more private property, forcing more people from their homes, require more businesses to close or relocate, and reduce the amount of property available for future development.
Improving U.S. 31 to a free-flow highway can be achieved at lower cost, in much less time, and with far less impact on existing homes and businesses while achieving the same benefits as a freeway.
Voluntary Property Purchase Program
A component of INDOT’s long-term plan to improve safety and mobility along U.S. 31 north of Indianapolis includes reducing the number of, and in some areas eliminating private driveways which connect to the highway. To deliver on this component, INDOT is offering a voluntary property purchase program. This program gives property owners along the corridor with driveway access to U.S. 31 the opportunity to approach INDOT to discuss a potential sale of their property to the agency for the purpose of eliminating driveway access. This program is open to all property owners, commercial and residential, with driveway access to U.S. 31.
For property owners that have no access other than U.S. 31, INDOT would negotiate purchase of the entire property, remove the U.S. 31 driveway and make the balance of the property available for sale. For property owners with access to other routes, such as a state highway or local road, INDOT would negotiate to purchase only the property containing the U.S. 31 driveway, leaving the balance of the property to be retained by the owner.
Interested property owners must contact INDOT to discuss participating in the voluntary purchase program. INDOT is not actively soliciting for property purchases along the U.S. 31 corridor with the exception of property needed for planned access control projects. Property owners impacted by planned U.S. 31 access control projects will be contacted by INDOT or a contracted consultant.
- U.S. 31 & 236th Street
- U.S. 31 & Norfolk Southern RR Grade Separation
- U.S. 31 Limited Access Upgrade from S.R. 38 to S.R. 931
- U.S. 31 Corridor Study