TIPTON – A new proposal by the Indiana Department of Transportation includes the much sought after interchange at U.S. 31 and Division Road in Tipton County, according to county officials.
The proposal, made public for the first time at last week’s commissioners meeting, includes giving up a previously planned overpass and the relinquishment of ownership of Indiana 213 to the county in 2025, according to Phil Beer, county engineer.
In exchange, the state will build a full interchange at the intersection of U.S. 31 and Division Road.
“The interchange at Division Road will have no out-of-pocket cost for the county, other than long-term maintenance of 213,” Beer said about the proposal, adding the county will also receive more road funding because of the increase in county road mileage. Indiana 213 runs 14 miles north and south on the county’s east side.
The commissioners took no action last week on the proposal, though Beer said he considers INDOT’s proposal “an acceptable” alternative than the county having to put up its own money, something county officials seemed willing to do in the past, as they see an interchange at U.S. 31 and Division Road crucial to expanding the city’s business park and keeping large truck traffic off of city roads.
According to Commissioner Dennis Henderson, INDOT would like to know the county’s decision by the end of January, with the absolute deadline being the end of February.
An INDOT spokesperson confirmed to the Tribune that talks between the county and the agency have been ongoing but declined to talk specifics since negotiations aren’t yet finalized.
That INDOT appears to be recommitted to building a full interchange at U.S. 31 and Division Road is a full reversal from just under a year ago in spring 2020, when agency officials told the county it had pulled the funding for building the interchange.
Since then, the county has made it a priority to push for the interchange.
Without an interchange at U.S. 31 and Division Road, the county would have just one access to U.S. 31, at Indiana 28, where a $17-million interchange opened in 2016 providing access to Tipton and the Fiat Chrysler Automobiles transmission plant.
INDOT’s current proposal for limiting access on U.S. 31 in the county is building overpasses at 600 South, 500 South, 300 North and 450 North, though the county will have to give up one of those overpasses under the new proposal. All other county roads would be turned into cul-de-sacs where they meet the highway.