Local and state organizers are planning for Interstate 69’s arrival with a series of community days next month.
The announcement was one a few journalists from around the area were treated to during a tour of I-69 construction in Daviess County.
On Saturday, Oct. 20, INDOT will allow local organizing committees in Odon and Washington onto overpasses for family friendly activities. The events will be free.
“When the new interstate opens, it will connect numerous communities that have been underserved for decades,” Gov. Mitch Daniels said in a press release. “In my job, I have traveled all 92 counties and I know firsthand how important I-69 is to southwest Indiana. That’s one reason why these community days will be full of celebration. This new interstate holds tremendous promise for the future.”
Details for specific events were not given Thursday, but planning is under way for a ceremony naming the two White River Bridges between Daviess and Pike counties for Daviess County’s two Congressional Medal of Honor winners Lt. Col. Don Carlos Faith and Pvt. Richard Taylor.
Other events might include games for children, food vendors, contests and other events. In Odon, the annual Travis Burkhart 5K run/walk is scheduled to take place where I-69 crosses SR 58 near North Daviess High School.
Touring the interstate Thursday, the overpasses and roads leading to them should be ready for the community days on Oct. 20, and for vehicle traffic by the end of the year, INDOT said.
According to percentages given by INDOT, construction is anywhere from 73 percent to fully comple, but is on schedule. The lowest is the Patoka River Bridge, a 4,400 -foot span covering the entire Patoka wetland area.
“We have a lot of things done, but we have a lot more to do,” Cher Elliott, INDOT press representative said. “We are one of the few industries that have benefited from this year’s drought. It gave the contractors the opportunity to keep on working and get ahead of schedule in some areas.”
With the help of some very large machinery, paving will also be quicker. Up near Elnora, a very large concrete paver was taking concrete by the truckload and laying it down on the road at a very quick pace. To lay an 11-inch concrete road, a paving crew can handle up to 2,000 feet a day.
It needs to be fast, because the concrete is only good for 30 minutes when it leaves the plant. If it sits too long in the truck, it will harden and jackhammers will have to be used to get it out.
On the end of Section 3 near the U.S. 231 interchange, crews could be finished paving in as little as 13 days, weather permitting. But there are some areas that will have to be paved by hand, like the SR 58 interchange. Elliott said it would take approximately seven days to pave by hand.
Journalists were also taken on a tour of some of the interstate that will be paved entirely with asphalt. There are asphalt road shoulders for the concrete portions, but near CR 800N, there is approximately 4 miles of road that will be in asphalt. Elliott said the asphalt is a little softer as a road material than concrete, and will last longer with coal trucks on the road.
About an inch and a half is remaining to be paved on the asphalt section of I-69. Crews were on the road Thursday planting grass seed and cleaning up finished areas.
One item, Elliott said, that will have to wait until spring is permanent road lines.
The permanent paint, she said, does not like cold weather.