SR 37/SR 100/I-69 at Castleton

One of the busiest sections of the Indiana State Road system in the area that is now I-69/SR 37 from I-465 north toward Noblesville. The original road built close to this area connected Indianapolis to the second largest city in the state, Fort Wayne. But what was built in the 1840s ended up being bypassed in the late 1950s with a unique situation that makes traffic flow to this day hard to control.

1932. The original Indianapolis-Fort Wayne State Road, known in Marion County as Allisonville Road, was added to the state highway system as SR 13. The junction of SR 13 and and what would later become SR 534/SR 100 was at the town of Allisonville. While all of the old state road did not end up as a new state highway, the old road was used to Noblesville. Allisonville Road remained SR 13 until around 1940, when it became SR 37.

It was about this time that the ISHC decided to create a road that was originally placed on planning maps almost a decade before – the Indianapolis belt road, SR 534. The road used on the north side had been known, at least in Castleton, by the name “State Road.” Today, we know it as the 82nd and 86th Street complex. The east leg, from what is now 56th Street north to 82nd Street, would be a newly built road. Due to the location, being in a middle of a survey township north of what is 62nd Street other places in the county, there had never been a road along this route. The state, hence, built Shadeland Avenue from 56th Street north to just east of the town of Castleton.

1953 USGS Topographical Map showing the northeast corner of SR 100 east of Castleton.

Fast forward to 1957. The state decided that a bypass of Fishers and Noblesville was in order for SR 37. This would lead to a construction that, given hindsight, makes little sense in traffic engineering. This created what would be a very convoluted, very complex, intersection at the new SR 37 and SR 100. Basically, the new SR 37 would drive right through the four point intersection at 82nd Street and Shadeland Avenue. There were sections of roads built in a lot of different directions, as shown in the next topo map and the following aerial photograph.

1960 USGS Topographic Map of JCT SR 37/SR 100 east of Castleton.
1962 Aerial photograph from MapIndy, mapping application of the City of Indianapolis/Marion County. Faint colored lines showing the current map.

When the bypass was completed through the area, the city of Noblesville was not very happy. The new SR 37 was placed east of the city, which officials worried would spell the death of downtown Noblesville. So, in an effort to placate both Fishers and Noblesville, the old SR 37 (from Keystone Avenue and Fall Creek Road to a junction north of Noblesville with the new SR 37) became marked as SR 37A, one of the few alternative routes ever used in the state. Most of the time, if a state road in Indiana is replaced, but the old road is to be retained in the system, the old road is given a daughter number. For example, just west of this area is old US 31, which became SR 431 when the US 31 Carmel bypass was built.

Hence, both Allisonville Road and the new SR 37 bypass would remain in the state system. At least for a little while. 1964 saw the returning of Allisonville Road south of SR 100 to Marion County. That year would also show that the new I-69 was under construction from west of Pendleton at SR 38 to east of Marion at SR 18. By 1965, the plans were in place to connect the completed section of I-69 at SR 38 to a location near what is now 116th Street and SR 37. It wouldn’t be until 1970 that I-69 was completed to SR 238. That would also be the time that SR 37A was removed from Hamilton County. The section from the county line at 96th Street to SR 100 at 86th Street, and the interchange at I-465, remained state responsibilty. This created an orphaned state road in the form of SR 234 that ended, at the time, at the old SR 37A.

1969 USGS Topographic Map of JCT SR 37/SR 100 east of Castleton. It shows the proposed location of I-69 and I-465 in the area, with the moving of several roads to allow for construction.

Maps of 1972 show that the state had been busy making the SR 37 bypass into a controlled access highway. There were no indications on the official maps that this would be part of the new I-69, although it seemed to almost make sense. The only reference I had seen to this upgrade to I-69 was the above 1969 topographic map from the USGS. One would think that it would be easier to update SR 37 from 116th Street south to I-465 than it would have been to build a new highway through Fishers.

1972 Aerial photograph from MapIndy, mapping application of the City of Indianapolis/Marion County. Faint colored lines showing the current map.

The new interchange at I-69 and SR 100, shown in the preceding aerial photograph, created the interesting traffic nightmare that exists today. Granted, it replaced a confusing combination of road segments that was in place for the preceding 14 years. It also removed the northern access to the intersection, which had led to the little known town of Vertland, which had been on the Nickel Plate railroad at 86th Street. This would be the next station north of Castleton, although the town of Vertland amounted to very little over the history.

INDOT now is planning a reconstruction of this section of I-69, from I-465 to north of 82nd Street. This will, in theory, create better traffic flow on both of the interstates. However, the section of I-69 from I-465 to SR 37 has been the scene of almost constant upgrades over the past decade, although it was done in a series of at least four projects. Time will tell if a decision made in 1957 will be corrected by construction done in 2020 through 2023.

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