Early next year, construction crews will add turn lanes, replace a traffic signal and improve sidewalks along a major thoroughfare on Bloomington’s east side — though the work will mean about three months of detours.
The Indiana Department of Transportation is scheduled to begin construction at the intersection of South Smith Road and East Third Street (Ind. 46) in late February or early March, primarily to reduce traffic congestion and improve pedestrian connectivity.
How long will Smith Road be closed for construction?
Third Street will remain open during construction, but Smith Road will have 45-day closures alternating between north and south approaches.
While the approaches are closed, drivers will be able to turn neither from Third Street onto Smith Road nor from Smith Road onto Third Street.
Sidney Nierman, public relations director for INDOT Southeast, said via email the official detour for the south approach will follow Ind. 446 to East Moores Pike to Smith Road. The official detour for the north approach will follow Ind. 46 to Ind. 45 (10th Street) to Smith Road.
How will Smith Road change at the Third Street intersection?
The south leg of Smith has a 13-foot travel lane in each direction and a sidewalk on the west side, while the north leg has a 10-foot travel lane and a 4-foot bike lane in each direction.
The construction project will widen Smith Road by about 5 feet on each side to provide exclusive left-turn lanes on both approaches.
In documents on its website, INDOT said the northbound and southbound approaches are seeing “unacceptable levels of service” during morning peak hours. The agency ranks road performance from A, which indicates unrestricted traffic flow, to F, which indicates high congestion and generally restricted operating speeds.
During the morning rush, both approaches operate at levels E or F, with delays of up to 137.5 seconds, the agency said.
INDOT noted that Ind. 46 and Smith Road have several bus stops and that University Elementary School, on North Russell Road, is less than a mile away.
What bicycle and pedestrian improvements will be made to Smith Road?
The construction project also will add striped 5-foot bike lanes in each direction, and crews will construct sidewalks along Smith Road and a sidewalk extension on the intersection’s southeast corner to connect it to the existing sidewalk east of the intersection.
INDOT also said traffic signals will be replaced and include Accessible Pedestrian Signal push buttons to accommodate new Americans with Disabilities Act ramps and crosswalks. The agency said the existing crosswalks lack such signals, and existing sidewalk ramps are not ADA compliant.
In addition, the project will include drainage improvements “to address concerns brought up by the religious facilities in the southwest corner of the intersection.”
Nierman said the intersection is expected to be operational in August, but the work won’t be fully complete until November.
The work will cost just under $2.5 million. Milestone Contractors was awarded the contract in May.
Boris Ladwig can be reached at [email protected].