New Albany to improve interchange at routes 161-62 in yearlong project

Gary Seman Jr.
ThisWeek group
The city of New Albany will spend $6.8 million in improvements to the interchange at state Route 161 and U.S. Route 62.

New Albany motorists soon will see major changes to the interchange at state Route 161 and U.S. Route 62.

“This interchange area has been on the radar for several years for a variety of reasons,” said Mike Barker, deputy director of public service for New Albany. “For one, this is definitely the area of highest travel volume in our corporate boundary, so there are a lot of cars in and out of New Albany that use this interchange.”

The city will spend $6.8 million in improvements to the interchange to be completed in two phases, with the first starting in July. No closures are planned, and traffic will be maintained throughout the completion of the project, Barker said.

The project will involve installing a traffic light at the intersection of Route 62 and Thurston Hall Boulevard to the west and Theisen Road to the east, and directly in front of the Plain Township Fire Department.

Barker said the work will include a synchronized device for the fire department, which involves preemption, a term meaning that during an emergency, the fire department can turn the traffic signal to red in three of four directions to allow traffic to stop and move out of the way.

Phase 1 also includes paving a portion of Route 62, he said.

Phase 2, which will maintain the existing layout of the interchange, will result in the widening of three of four ramps at the interchange to increase capacity and better accommodate the volume of traffic, Barker said.

The eastbound offramp will have a dedicated right-turn lane and double left-turn lane, allowing vehicles to exit the ramp and clear Route 161 more quickly, he said.

The westbound onramp will be widened about 2,000 feet onto approaching Route 161 and with a longer merge lane.

“As it is right now, you’ve got to move into that lane quickly,” he said.

The eastbound on-ramp has very little traffic, so no improvements are warranted, Barker said.

The westbound offramp will be widened to include a dedicated through- or right-hand-turn lane and a dedicated left-hand lane.

Work on phase 2 should take about a year to complete, Barker said.

“The priority of this project was safety,” Barker said.

The improvements also call for the extension of separated leisure trails and on-street dedicated bike lanes on both sides of Route 62 running from the Windsor subdivision to Walton Parkway, he said.

Angela Douglas, executive director of Healthy New Albany, said more amenities for walkers, bikers and runners always are welcome.

“Any opportunity to connect more residents, people and neighborhoods to walking trails, park systems and opportunities to be active outside and nature would be a ‘win’ in my book,” Douglas said.

gseman@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekGary