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By Tim Monger on August 24, 2016

A $188 million-plus road project designed to ease congestion on State Road 37 in Hamilton County could do more than get traffic flowing, according to an analysis from Boston-based Economic Development Research Group, Inc.

The transportation improvements also are expected to bring “substantial economic benefits” to the region, researchers found: Just reducing travel time, accidents and pollution could generate savings of more than $510 million in the 25 years after construction begins.

And that doesn’t factor in any additional development along the 5.7-mile commercial corridor that stretches from Interstate 69 in Fishers to State Road 32 in Noblesville.

Preliminary site work for the project’s $124 million first phase began in May, and construction could start in late 2018.  Plans call for removing traffic signals from I-69 to 146th Street and replacing them with roundabout interchanges.

A second phase would extend the project north to State Road 32.

The ambitious project has drawn funding from the Indiana Department of Transportation, Hamilton County and the cities of Fishers and Noblesville. The goal is to keep traffic moving—both north and south along State Road 37, and east and west across the highway—as the area continues to grow.

If all goes as expected, the project could save motorists an estimated 957,000 hours of travel time each year.

Designers are drawing inspiration from the success of the city of Carmel’s overhaul of Keystone Parkway, which eliminated stoplights north of 96th Street in favor of roundabouts.

Commissioned by the county, Economic Development Research Group’s 2015 report shows the State Road 37 project paying off in the long run. The estimated $510 million in direct benefits could stimulate as much as $889 million in new business sales over the 25 years, researchers said, prompting dozens of existing businesses to add nearly 184 permanent jobs.

The economic impact analysis did not attempt to predict future development along the corridor, however. While the southern stretch is largely built out, development and redevelopment opportunities still exist—and some projects are already under way. At the northeast corner of 146th Street and SR 37, for example, TM Crowley & Associates is building The Crossings, a mixed-use project anchored by a Volkswagen dealership and a GetGo fueling center.

State Road 37 will remain open during construction, and the work will be staggered to avoid closing two consecutive intersections at the same time. Still, businesses are likely to feel an impact. To mitigate the pain, the county has committed to providing up to $250,000 for a marketing campaign to keep customers driving to their usual destinations despite road closures and detours.

Categories: "City of Fishers", "City of Noblesville", "Economic Development", "Hamilton County", "State Road 37"