The airport project is a stone's throw from Interstate 70. Now, the Indiana Dept. of Transportation, its designers and contractors are fast-tracking a two-year, $180-million realignment of a four-mile portion of the highway, including two new interchanges. In a first for the state, "We're developing plans as we go along and letting the contracts as designs develop," says Ronald Heustis, InDOT project manager.

The realignment and depression of I-70 will reconfigure it parallel to two existing runways and allow the airport to expand for a future runway and taxiway bridge. At points, the highway is just a few hundred feet from one of the runways, says Heustis. Shifting the alignment to the south will increase the distance from the runways to 1,300 ft.

Walsh Construction, Chicago, is working under a $30-million earthmoving and drainage contract. Some 2 million cu yd of earth is being moved to depress the new highway portion to 35 ft. Another 1 million cu yd is being moved to relocate 1,700 ft of creeks, being done in a separate contract by American Consulting Engineers, Indianapolis. Walsh faces $20,000 per day in potential penalties if the contract is not completed by July 31. Walsh's contract includes installing a 96-in.-dia drainage pipe 43 ft deep, and lime-treating of soil to enable crews to work through the winter.

The next approximately $25-million contract for "critical structures" is slated to begin in June. They include three post-tensioned box girders as part of a new three-level interchange that will link to the airport terminal. The remaining four contracts for paving, "noncritical" structures, an interchange, a six-lane collector-distributor road system and final paving and demolition will follow within the next three months. A team led by Parsons Brinckerhoff, New York City, leads the overall design.

Steve Fleming, PB's group manager, says the box girder bridges "will not be run-of-the-mill." Designers collaborated with airport architect HOK, St. Louis, on the bridges and a mechanically stabilized wall. They will incorporate colored concrete to match a new 320-ft-high control tower and a planned new terminal.

That interchange and another will be located within a current 7-mile gap between connections to I-475. The new realigned highway segment is scheduled to be open to traffic by the end of 2004. Click here to view map

The realigned route will allow FedEx Corp. to expand facilities at its second-largest hub. "Until I-70 is moved, we're somewhat land-locked," says Bob Palmer, FedEx regional vice president. The move will allow FedEx to eventually build up to 33 new aircraft gates.

The new highway connection anticipates the airport's crown jewel, the $350-million H-shaped, 1-million-sq-ft new terminal. Construction on the terminal is about 16 months away, says John Kish, midfield airport project director. Bids are being awarded for a new road system around the terminal as well.

ontractors are moving creeks, 3 million cu yd of earth and a 4-mile section of Interstate highway in Indianapolis to accommodate a $1-billion airport expansion.