The Cloverleaf Interchanges at US 40 and SR 100

One of the most historic interchanges in the state of Indiana is the cloverleaf at Washington Street and Shadeland Avenue on the east side of Marion County. It was the first such interchange in the county…and as such was called “the Cloverleaf” for years. When it was completed in 1956, the Indiana State Highway Commission had built it to become part of the circular highway bypass of Indianapolis. Washington Street, at that time, was US 40, and Shadeland Avenue had been built as SR 100. (The history of SR 100 was covered here.)

Construction on the above mentioned interchange started in 1954. At the time, SR 100 (the Shadeland Avenue leg) ended at Washington Street. It had just been completed to that point in the previous several years. The road was built to be part of a complete bypass of Indianapolis. And as such, it started doing its job too well. Traffic along both roads was getting rather busy. It was then decided to reconstruct the interchange, which at the time had been a traffic signal. The plan was for the cloverleaf that is still there to this day.

But this wasn’t the only planned cloverleaf interchange. SR 100 on the west side of Marion County was High School Road. The most direct route from downtown Indianapolis to the Indianapolis Municipal Airport was Washington Street to High School Road and south to the airport. The original plan for SR 100 was to use High School Road, Thompson Road, Shadeland Avenue and 82/86th Street as a complete loop around the city. While this was never competed (the construction of I-465 started in 1960, and replaced SR 100 plans), the interchange at High School and Washington was going to be an important part of the plan.

(As an aside, the initial contracts for the construction of I-465 were actually issued by the state as part of SR 100. In the beginning, both numbers were used to refer to the highway, especially on the west side of the city.)

The image above shows the official notification of the contract letting for Washington Street/US 40 exit at I-465. These would be published in newspapers statewide. This one came from an Indianapolis newspaper on 20 October 1959. Although the contract was numbered as part of I-465, the contract actually calls for construction of the SR 100 west leg.

But the planning for the cloverleaf started way back in 1954. To the extent that houses were moved for the building of the interchange. Although, it is noted in the image below from the Indianapolis News of 15 December 1954, that the planning was incomplete. The plans for the highway hadn’t even been laid down at the time. It is important to remember that the plans for the Indianapolis Bypass, as SR 100, were started before the Interstate system had been created.

With the signing, by President Eisenhower, of the law in 1956 that created what would become the interstate system, the planning of SR 100 would be moved from one type of road to another. Traffic through the area would justify the expense of building a controlled access highway around the city.

As it turned out, the matching cloverleafs on US 40 at SR 100 would end up not being completed. The east side interchange would become a landmark. The west side leg of SR 100 dropped off the face of the earth when I-465 became to preferred bypass. And hence, the money spent to move the house pictured below would, in the end, been for naught.

Indianapolis News, 15 Dec 1954. Moving a house out of the way to build a cloverleaf interchange at US 40 (Washington Street) and SR 100 on the westside of Indianapolis. This interchange would not be built until almost a decade later as part of I-465.

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