I-65 commute offers bumpy ride

First commuters had to dodge potholes that left multiple cars on the side of Interstate 65 with a jack and a spare.

Now that the holes have been fixed, drivers are trying to avoid the patches put onto the road because cars jolt up and down when driving over the patches as if hitting a speedbump.

Since the last time I-65 was repaved more than 10 years ago, multiple potholes have formed and been fixed.

Most recently, crews filled multiple holes and cracks in the north and southbound lanes between County Line Road and State Road 44. The holes were filled to make the road drivable through winter, but the fix was never intended to be permanent since the road will be resurfaced within two years.

The highway is planned to be repaved when the interstate is expanded. Prep work has started to add another lane in each direction on I-65 between Main Street in Greenwood to Southport Road in Indianapolis. The next phase would add a lane in each direction between State Road 44 in Franklin and Main Street in Greenwood. But the state hasn’t hired anyone yet to do the work, so construction cannot start until at least this fall, said Harry Maginity of

the Indiana Department of Transportation.

That means drivers will have to avoid the patches until construction is complete, which could be more than a year.

“The bumps are absolutely terrible,” Interstate Warehouse facility manager Jarrod Weber said. “If I have a drink in the drink holder, you’ve got drink going everywhere.”

Weber travels on I-65 every day from Whiteland Road to the State Road 44 exit. Before he gets on I-65, Weber packs his work bag securely in the back seat so he doesn’t lose the contents inside when he hits a bump. For his 2003 Ford Excursion, which does not handle a rough road well even with a lift kit, the excessive bumps are a pain to deal with every morning, he said.

By repeatedly patching the potholes on I-65 instead of repaving the road altogether, the state is wasting money, business owner Gary Christie said.

“In my opinion, all they’re doing is spending money that they’re just wasting, basically,” said Christie, who owns O.C. Repair and Fabrication, located off of Lovers Lane.

During the past four years, Christie noticed the maintenance crews filling holes on I-65 over and over, without resurfacing the road. Christie moved the business from Indianapolis to Franklin in 2008, and his employees travel to Indianapolis sometimes five times a day. Since the office is located near State Road 44, using I-65 to get to Indianapolis is the most convenient route for his employees, he said.

“When they first started making the repairs a few years ago, I thought, ‘Well they’re basically just buying some time until they can come in and fix it right,’ and now they still haven’t done that,” Christie said.

And this latest patchwork did not make I-65 smooth, Christie said. Every time he drives over the patches, he said he feels

the bumps.

“They say they’ve repaired it, but it is not a good repair,” Weber said.

Franklin firefighters have been told to be aware of any patchwork since that could cause tire damage on the fire trucks, fire department spokesman Brad Epperson said.

While the interstate pavement has not caused any damage yet, the increasing number of bumps in the road are not good for the fire trucks. Sometimes the interstate feels like you’re driving on an older country road, instead of a fast highway because of the bumps, Epperson said.