INDIANAPOLIS -- The Kokomo portion of the ongoing U.S. 31 upgrade should be completed two years ahead of schedule -- at the end of 2013, according to Gov. Mitch Daniels.
Daniels told the U.S. 31 Coalition at its annual legislative day Tuesday that the Kokomo portion of the project -- a bypass on a new corridor around the eastern side of the city -- has been accelerated. Two miles of new highway construction are under way and two bridges carrying county road traffic over the highway are already opened to traffic, the governor's office said in a written release.
Meanwhile, the new Plymouth-South Bend portion of U.S. 31 should be open at the end of 2014. Ten miles of new roadway are under construction, with work on 10 additional miles to come.
"It's going at incredible speed," said Greater Chamber of Commerce Vice President Kyle Hannon, who attended Tuesday's event. He said part of the work thus far on the Plymouth-South Bend stretch includes construction of a 1,100-foot "peat bridge" along a section of new alignment with soft soil underneath.
Much of the work thus far on the South Bend-Plymouth and Kokomo sections has been on new alignment, according to Hannon. Thus, it may not be evident to motorists using the roadway in those stretches.
"There's been a ton of work going on and most people never see it," he said.
The Hamilton County segment just north of Indianapolis will start in 2011 and is expected to be complete in 2018. The road will be upgraded from I-465 to S.R. 38, the release said.
The governor said the state has invested more than $200 million in the three projects, meant to upgrade the sections to limited-access roadways, just like federal interstates. Total investment is expected to exceed $1 billion.
In all, about 44 of the 122 miles of U.S. 31 roadway between South Bend and Indianapolis will be upgraded as part of the ongoing plans. Daniels said an hour will be shaved off a round-trip in the section within the next five years.
No work has been scheduled for portions of the highway in between each of the three segments getting attention. U.S. 31 boosters, however, would like to see those stretches upgraded as well.