Officials expect economic boon from Indiana 2/I-65 interchange upgrade
By Carrie Napoleon Post-Tribune correspondent April 26, 2012 6:08PM
Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels speaks with guests during a groundbreaking for Major Moves to add travel lanes on State Road 2 at I-65 on Thursday, April 26, 2012, in Lowell. | Scott R. Brandush~Sun-Times Media
Updated: April 27, 2012 11:13AM
LOWELL — It may have taken 15 years but work is finally under way on $10.3 million in improvements to Indiana 2 at the Interstate 65 interchange.
Gov. Mitch Daniels was on hand Thursday for the official groundbreaking on the project and tout the Major Moves initiative that made possible the work, which has been on the table since 1997.
“This will open up economic opportunities that aren’t there now,” Daniels said.
Improvements include widening Indiana 2 to four lanes from about Mississippi to Colorado streets, including turn lanes and new signaling, widening the interchange ramps to include additional turn lanes, and aligning the Colorado Street intersection.
State Rep. Ed Soliday, R-Valparaiso, said he is familiar with the stretch of road and the challenges that can arise navigating through the heavy truck traffic especially when the weather is bad.
“It gets really scary out here,” he said.
The road improvement project will help improve the safety of the area for motorists and trucks, and create easier access to neighboring communities.
“This should provide an economic shot in the arm to the nearby communities,” he said.
Mark Maassel, president and CEO of the Northwest Indiana Forum, attended the groundbreaking and said infrastructure improvements such as this are essential to economic development through the entire I-65 corridor from Chicago to Indianapolis.
“We have to have a strong, clear, competitive advantage,” Maassel said, referring to the need to attract the logistics and manufacturing jobs that would create good-paying jobs in the corridor.
He said he remembers when the interchange at U.S. 30 and I-65 went in, and the development since has been dramatic.
“It looked like this,” Maassel said of the cornfields.
He said local officials need to make sure the land use planning at the interchange’s edges is designed to spur desireable job-creating economic development.
Work is expected to be complete by November. No ramp closures are expected. Colorado Street will be closed while its intersection at Indiana 2 is realigned.
Access to all businesses will be maintained throughout the project.