82nd and 86th Street Before SR 534 (SR 100)

Around the time of World War II, the state of Indiana decided that it was time to finally start building a belt highway around Indianapolis. The decision was made that the new state highway, named SR 534, would use an old county road that would later become known as 82nd Street and 86th Street. (For information about SR 100, check out “SR 100: How did it come to be?,” published 9 March 2019.) But a question that comes up on a regular basis is why 86th and 82nd Streets are connected they way they are? Was it the state that changed this? That answer is, no.

1875 map of northern Marion County, showing what is now the 86th and 82nd Street corridor.

By 1855 (and still into 1875, as shown above), there was a road built connecting Nora, at the Westfield State Road (later the Range Line Road) and Castleton at the Lake Erie & Western railroad, through Allisonville. This road would start, on the west, on a survey line (one that is one mile south of the Hamilton-Marion County line) at Nora. The road at the east end of this section would be placed on the half section line (1/2 mile south of the section line that would run through Nora). A quick look at the map above will show that the survey line east out of Nora would cross the White River in three places, if the road was put in that place.

1889 map of Nora.

The bridge that was put into place would skirt the White River, which was standard operating procedure at the time. Early state roads, those built by the state originally but turned over to the counties as they were completed, would, as a general rule, be built in as simple and inexpensive way as possible. A road didn’t have to be straight if geography didn’t allow it to be easily done. Such is the case with this section of the 86th/82nd Street corridor. Also, bridges at the time were built to cross rivers at a right angle, making them easier and cheaper to build. This route also had the additional consequence of making Castleton the bigger of two towns along the Lake Erie & Western. The other town, which pretty much floundered, and disappeared, was Vertland. Vertland was located on the survey line that would become 86th Street at the LE&W tracks.

At Nora, as shown in the 1889 map above, the town consisted of two roads, one of which is now 86th Street and the other was the state road connecting Indianapolis to Westfield and Kokomo (Westfield Boulevard/Range Line Road). This latter road would be the original State Road 1/original US 31.

1889 map of Allisonville.

At Allisonville, the road would rumble through town along what is now the 82nd Street corridor. The other major road through the town, at the time of this 1889 map of the town, was a toll road called the Allisonville Pike. This road started life as the state road that connected Indianapolis to Fort Wayne through Noblesville, Marion and Huntington. There was a toll gate south of what is now 82nd Street on Allisonville Road, clearly shown in the map snippet. Allisonville contained three small streets. Due to commercial development in the area, what was the town of Allisonville was basically just removed from maps.

The Allisonville Pike was one of the few old state roads that wasn’t immediately accepted into the state highway system between 1919 and 1926. As a matter of fact, it wouldn’t be until around 1930 when this road became part of the highway system as SR 13. Later, it would become SR 37.

1889 map of Castleton.

At Castleton, the 82nd Street corridor was, in 1889, called “State Road.” This is typical of Indiana street naming conventions. In most places, if the name of the street includes the word “State,” for instance State Road, State Street or State Avenue, it generally means that it was, at one point, an original state road from the 19th Century. (Indianapolis’ State Avenue does not fit this rule, one of the few exceptions in Indiana.) The 1889 map of Castleton shows this.

By the time the state decided to add this corridor to the state highway system, the curvy road was still in place. The following MapIndy images show the corridor in 1941. The Indiana State Highway Commission decided that, if they were to turn this into SR 534, it would need to straighten out the corridor. Work started on this project, and one that would continue Shadeland Avenue from south of Fall Creek (at 56th Street and Fort Benjamin Harrison) to connect to this corridor. When completed, this would be a two lane “highway,” first connecting Nora to Fort Harrison. Along the way, due to traffic volumes, it would be expanded to four (or more) lanes. This would be before I-465 was built to replace this state highway.

MapIndy 1941 aerial photo showing the original 86th Street corridor as it approached White River near what is now Keystone At The Crossing. The faint red line running through the center of the snippet is the current 86th Street, showing that it was straightened and the bridge moved.
MapIndy 1941 aerial photo showing the original 82nd Street corridor as it approached White River near what is now Keystone At The Crossing. The faint red line running through the center of the snippet is the current 82nd Street, showing that it was straightened and the bridge moved. This snippet ends just west of Allisonville, since the road was straight from the right edge of the snippet to Castleton.

Greensburg Road, To Where Depends on the Source

Leading southeast out of Franklin, the county seat of Johnson County, is a road that is named Greensburg Road, that connected to Greensburg, county seat of Decatur County. Depending on the source of information, that road is listed with multiple destinations. All of them end, or begin depending on the source, at Greensburg. It’s the other end that goes to who knows where.

The “Indiana Gazetteer, Or, Topographical Dictionary” of 1833, under the entry for Shelby County, lists “a road from Indianapolis to Greensburgh” as running through the central part of the county. Given that most state roads at the time ran in nowhere a straight line between two points, I would almost bet money that this road would be a branch of the Madison-Indianapolis State Road, leaving the Madison at Franklin (and called Greensburg Road). This would make sense.

In the book “Laws of the State of Indiana,” listing laws passed by the legislature during the 1829-1830 session, Chapter LXXIII, Section 3, states “that the sum of five hundred dollars be appropriated on so much of the state road from Greensburgh in Decatur county, through Franklin in Johnson county, Mooresville, and Greencastle in Putnam county, to the state line, in the direction to Vandalia.” So the same Greensburg Road in Franklin now has an end point on the Illinois-Indiana State Line, with the road heading toward Vandalia. I am not sure which road this would be…but the National Road leads from near Greencastle to Vandalia, Illinois. Vandalia, Indiana, is an unincorporated place along SR 46 between Spencer and Bowling Green. So it is unlikely this is the Vandalia mentioned in the law.

Ultimately, the Greensburgh Road (which, strangely, is how it is still spelled in newspapers – especially the Daily Journal of Franklin, Indiana) would become a “turnpike,” or toll road, between Franklin and Greensburg. The route to Indianapolis would have followed the Madison Road, a toll road. The route to Mooresville would follow what is now (in parts) SR 144 between Franklin and Mooresville.

As far as I can tell, it would have followed Vandalia Road (that’s the name) from near SR 9 to Greensburg, through the unincorporated town of Geneva in southeastern Shelby County. Between the Johnson-Shelby County line west of Marietta and the old town of Bynam, at SR 9 and Vandalia Road, the old road is hard to find. This is typical of early Indiana state roads. I am pretty sure that it went south of Marietta, crossing the Big Blue River on a diagonal road that is now a driveway leading to Shelby CR 650S. This diagonal road would connect Shelby CR 600S to Shelby CR 650S. But this is just a guess because I can find no maps to show the old Greensburgh Road.

So, after many years, the very old Greensburgh Road basically goes to the middle of nowhere. Sources in the past show it going to Greencastle or Indianapolis, turnpikes show it going to Franklin. Modern sources show it going to the middle of nowhere.

1930: South Bend becoming State Highway Hub

South Bend Tribune, 28 August 1930. The headline reads “City to Become Hub in State’s Road System.” At the time, South Bend was at the crossroads of two United States highways, US 20 and US 31. Before that, in the Auto Trail era, South Bend had been the location of the junction of the two Carl G. Fisher brainchildren: the Lincoln Highway and Dixie Highway. But, the two different eras didn’t entirely use the same roads.

Indiana State Highway Commission officials held a conference about future plans. South Bend became a center of state truck routes, with the addition of three more state routes through the city. They would be through routes added. It would be the following week before definite plans and inspection by state highway officials would occur.

The following conclusions were made by the conference that was attended by Governor Harry G. Leslie, members of the State Highway Commission, the Chamber of Commerce good roads committee and city and county officials:

“1 – Announcement that a 40-foot highway from South Bend to Michigan City will be constructed over the route of the old Lincoln Highway before the world’s fair in Chicago in 1933, thus affording South Bend two arteries of travel to Chicago.”

“2 – Continuance of state road No. 2 from Elkhart to South Bend, entering on Lincoln Way East, and continuing through LaPorte over what is known as state route No. 20.”

“3 – Rerouting of U. S. highway No. 112 from Elkhart to South Bend, entering South Bend on north side of river and Fillmore road, which will be opened by the city through to LaSalle avenue.”

“4 – Indication by state highway commission that U. S. No. 112 after leaving South Bend will be routed west over Lincoln Highway.”

“5 – Decision of commission temporarily to route state road No. 23, also known as the Edwardsburg highway, southwest from the city over the Liberty highway as the first link of a Detroit, Mich., to St. Louis, Mo., highway.”

“6 – Announcement that the state will take over the Liberty highway and attempt to force the New York Central railroad to cooperate in eliminating the gap in pavement near the abandoned Consumers gravel pit.”

“7 – Promise of state officials that adequate snow removal equipment would be in operation in St. Joseph county this winter.”

It is important to realize that when the state highway system was renumbered in 1926, the Lincoln Highway, connecting Fort Wayne to Dyer through Ligonier, Goshen, Elkhart, South Bend, LaPorte and Valparaiso, was only partly on the new highway lines. The portion from South Bend to Rolling Prairie, also part of the historic Michigan Road, was notably left off official highway maps. Both points one and two above discuss the possibility of adding this old highway back into state property rolls. U. S. 20, also called state road No. 20 in this article, left South Bend to the west via what is now Western Avenue in a straight line to Michigan City, unlike the old Michigan Road/Lincoln Highway. As mentioned in point two, the Western Avenue route would become also part of SR 2. It turned out that it would become only SR 2 eventually.

Points three and four mention US 112, a daughter highway of US 12. US 12 traveled straight across Michigan from Detroit to Benton Harbor, then south along Lake Michigan into Indiana to meet US 20 near Michigan City. US 112 linked, originally, downtown Detroit to Elkhart. US 112 was one of the original US highways created in the 1925/1926 plan. US 112 following the Lincoln Highway west of South Bend made sense. The article goes on to mention that “the Lincoln highway was dropped from the state highway system when highway No. 20 was constructed. The Lincoln highway has a 100-foot right-of-way.” US 112 would be removed from Indiana by 1937.

Point five expands SR 23, not an original state road, through South Bend to eventually SR 10 between Bass Lake and Culver. The northern part of this route was added to the state highway system in 1930. The Liberty Highway was added to the system in 1932. This extension of SR 23 would lead to two daughter routes being created: SR 123 that followed Mayflower Road between SR 23 and US 20 (Michigan Road/Lincoln Highway), and SR 223 that followed Crumstown Highway from SR 123/Mayflower Road to SR 23. The former existed until 1981. The latter until 1972.

The plans mentioned in this article were all put into place by the end of 1933. South Bend would become a hub in the state highway system. Today, even with the reroute of US 31 and US 20 around the city, and US 33 being decommissioned from Elkhart west and north, South Bend still maintains a hub status. This is in part because St. Joseph County requested that its sections of old state roads not be removed from the state system (this is why SR 933 only exists in the county, and SR 931 south from South Bend ends at the county line, as well).

US and Interstate Numbers and the “Crossroads of America”

Indiana has been considered the “Crossroads of America” for a very long time. This moniker was cemented for all time when, in 1926, the United States Highway system was established.

In the original US highway scheme of things, all major cross-country east-west routes end in “0.” This can be seen when looking at a map of the United States. Starting in the north with US 10, migrating to the south with US 90. Indiana, given its place in the country, ended up with more than its share of “0” highways. Look at it: Indiana has US 20, US 30, US 40 and US 50. A quick glance at northern Kentucky will show that US 60 is just outside the state.

The major north-south routes all ended in “1.” Indiana has both US 31 and US 41. The difference in the north-south major routes is that they were numbered from US 1 on the east coast to US 101 on the west coast. The next majors are further away in this plan, with US 21 being, originally, in eastern Ohio going south, and US 51 being through central Illinois.

Let’s focus on the major US routes as originally planned. The following snippets are from the Indianapolis News of 27 September 1926. The road descriptions would become active on 1 October 1926.

US 20 was originally designated from Newport, Oregon, to Boston, Massachusetts. The road through Indiana included the Dunes Highway, part of the Lincoln Highway, and part of the Michigan Road. Originally, it would not follow the older roads into South Bend. It would be designated along a straight east-west road from Rolling Prairie into South Bend. At South Bend, it would stay north of the St. Joseph River.

US 30 was designated from Astoria, Oregon, to Atlantic City, New Jersey. Through Indiana, it followed the what became the “new” Lincoln Highway, which was original SR 2. The original Lincoln Highway was SR 2, but was redesignated when the state decided to “straighten” the road between the two state lines.

US 31 was, once, a route that connected Mobile, Alabama, to north of St. Ignace, Michigan, in the Upper Peninsula. In Indiana, it was original SR 1 its entire routing through the state.

US 40 started, originally, in San Francisco, California. The eastern end was in Atlantic City, New Jersey. Through Indiana, it followed the route of the old National Road (roughly), and the National Old Trails Road from Terre Haute to Richmond. At Richmond, the two old roads separated, with the National Road going to Springfield, Ohio, and the NOTR going to Eaton and Dayton before reconnecting at Springfield.

Connecting Miami, Florida, to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, through Chicago, US 41 took the place, in Indiana, of original SR 10 along the western tier of counties. Some of the original US 41 was moved over time and replaced with SR 63.

Originally, US 50 connected San Francisco, California, to Ocean City, Maryland. Through Indiana, it traverses the southern part of the state from Vincennes to Lawrenceburg. There have been many route changes throughout the years, some straightening and some bypasses.

The moniker “Crossroad of America” was further cemented with the creation of the “National System of Interstate and Defense Highways,” commonly known as the Interstate Highway system. It is also known by the name of its major champion as the “Dwight D. Eisenhower National System of Interstate and Defense Highways.” As originally planned, major east-west routes ended, just like the US highways, with a “0.” North-south major routes ended with a “5.”

Indiana ended up with interstate routes 70, 80 and 90. When the system was created, there was no I-50 or I-60. The closest thing to a “major” I-60 route would be I-64, which also traverses Indiana. When it came to north-south routes, Indiana only ended up with I-65. Part of this stems from the lack of suitable major routes through the state, and part stems from the usage of major numbers for shorter sections of highways (I-45 and I-85).

However, plans are in the works to make two more major interstates, without major numbers. The first is I-69, which will eventually connect the Mexican border in southern Texas to the Canadian Border at its current northern terminus at Port Huron, Michigan. (Technically, the section of I-69 from Lansing to Port Huron is labelled “East I-69.”) The other is I-74, which will eventually connect the Quad Cities area of Illinois/Iowa to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. Currently, I-74 ends in Cincinnati. But there are sections in North Carolina, sections in progress in South Carolina, and signage pending in West Virginia. With all of the interstate highways in Indiana becoming, eventually, connected to the almost the entire country, the name “Crossroads of America” is not likely to be removed from the state for a long time to come.

The State Taketh, the State Giveth Back

To be honest, I have always had a “love/hate” opinion of the Indiana Department of Transportation. I realize that may be silly to admit. But true it is. Most of the “hate” side comes from silly little things like what I call “traffic constipation devices,” aka stop lights, and 45 mile detours because the only way between point A and point B when they close a road is to go 30 miles out of the way. That is due to the statutory limit of INDOT. And it started getting worse in 1975.

When the Indiana State Highway Commission was formed, it was tasked with connecting all of the county seats, and all towns over 5,000 population, to the state highway system. It started, really, in 1919. By the middle of the 1930s, the system was pretty much complete. Or at least, approved to be completed.

This was great. But it also created the problem that existed today. State roads ended up being few and far between. There are sections of no state roads at all in places in Indiana. As the state started building bypasses, replacements, and (later) limited access highways, the few and far between roads became even more so.

An article in the South Bend Tribune of 1 December 1975 discussed what the state decided to do next. Start giving the state roads back to the counties. According to the article, the ISHC planned to have their “relinquishments” done by 1990. And it planned on a bunch of them. According to the article, the plan was to get the state highway system down to the 12,000 mile limit that is currently state law. However, “a 1967 Indiana Legislative Advisory Commission recommendation was to reduce the state highway system to about 9,300 miles of interstate, principal, major and collector highways will all other roads in the state system to be placed under local control.”

At the time of this article, roads that had been returned to local authority included: SR 13 from Lapel to Greenfield; old US 31 in Fulton and Marshall Counties; old SR 37 in Lawrence County, Bedford, and Oolitic; one half mile of US 40 in Terre Haute; SR 68 in Warrick, Gibson and Posey Counties; SR 303 in Wells County; SR 132 in Madison County; and numerous other small sections of road. To return the section of SR 68 in Warrick County, the state agreed to repair three bridges before the turnover would occur.

There were three categories (the article states there are four, but only lists three) of roads to be returned to county and/or city control: 1) “routes that because of construction of other state routes in close proximity no longer are needed to provide major arterial traffic service.” 2) “Sections of highway within geographical areas or along traffic corridors where there is a ‘redundancy of state highways’.” 3) “Short lengths of local streets of county roads reconstructed as a part of a state highway project, such as frontage or local access routes which never were formally a part of the state highway system.”

The reason this article was in the South Bend Tribune is due to the real possibility (at the time, the actual fact today…well, sorta) of the state giving control of US 31 and SR 2 inside the new US 31 St. Joseph Parkway bypass back to South Bend. Ironically, even though this article was written 44 years ago, St. Joseph County is the one place in the state having a hard time accepting that the state wants to rid itself of these roads. SR 931 and SR 933 only exist because St. Joseph County refuses to accept the roads back. Period. SR 933 ONLY exists in St. Joseph County, ending at the Elkhart County line. SR 931 exists in two places, St. Joseph and Howard & Tipton Counties. And Howard and Tipton Counties are already working on getting their section back. Both sections of SR 931 exist because the new US 31 bypass built in both of these locations.

Marion County fell victim to the “relinquishment” plan very early and very often. First, US 52 was built to bypass Lebanon. Before long, the route was incorporated into, and replaced by, Interstate 65. As I-465 was built, US 52 followed it around to SR 100, then to Brookville Road. (There was no exit, originally, from I-465 north to US 52. It required exiting onto SR 100/Shadeland Avenue.) When the interstate was finally complete, US 52 would be permanently routed that direction. Or, at least until and entrance was built to I-465 north allowing the state to reroute the reoute to I-465 north and west along the northern part of the county.

Other sections soon fell into county control. Most of SR 100 wasn’t needed anymore as it was replaced by I-465. (As a matter of fact, the state contracts to build 465 were noted as either SR 100 or I-465. I-465 was contracted as an actual replacement.) The only section that remained of SR 100 was from I-465 on the east side to Washington Street. (As part of not only SR 100, but also as part of US 52.) US 36, SR 67, US 421 and US 136 were the third set. The first three would go around Marion County along I-465. US 136 would end at the entrance to I-74 on the west side. In 1986, SR 431 on the southside of Marion County (the original Madison State Road) was turned back over to Indianapolis after major expansion work. It was changed from two lanes to five from the US 31 split to Shelby Street. (This section of SR 431 was one of only two state roads that did not connect to the interstate directly in Marion County. The other was US 40 in downtown Indianapolis. Ironically, the US 40 connection would finally be made…after US 40 in that area ceased to exist.)

The last to lose state status in the area were US 40, US 31, SR 37, SR 135, SR 431 (north side) and SR 100. All of these happened roughly the same time (within a two year period). Both SR 431 and SR 100 no longer exist in any capacity. SR 100 was finally replaced with the construction of ramps directly from US 52 to I-465 mentioned earlier. US 31, SR 37 and US 40 go around I-465 with the rest of the roads in Marion County. SR 135 was shortened by two miles, connecting to US 31 via Thompson Road rather than Troy Avenue.

All of this leads to a state road system that covers the state, yet creates large gaps in coverage. Some say that this is in the name of fiscal responsibility. And to a certain extent, that is accurate. Until one considers how much road tax money the state gives the local governments. It’s quite a bit. And that total is growing as the state giveth back what they had originally taketh.

US 36 in Indiana

Indiana has always been known as the “Crossroads of America.” For the most part, highways connecting Indiana to the rest of the United States have been through routes. But in the beginning of the US highway system (i.e. that on 1 October 1926, when it came to life in Indiana), there was one that ended near the western edge of the city of Indianapolis: US 36.

Let’s step back quite a bit before October 1926. What is now US 36 began life as the Indianapolis-Rockville State Road, basically a wagon trail connecting the capital city to the county seat of Parke County. Along the way, it also connected to the county seat of Hendricks County, Danville. What is currently US 36 west of Hendricks County is part of the original road. However, there were several sections that were straightened out by the state over the years.

When the Auto Route era started, the Rockville Road (now a series of county gravel roads) was included as part of the Pikes Peak Ocean to Ocean Highway. I have copies of maps spanning 1918 to 1920 showing this. Also, the Federal Highway Administration shows this in a series of strip maps. This link shows the section from Indianapolis to Chrisman, IL.: https://www.fhwa.dot.gov/infrastructure/ppmap05.cfm

(East of Indianapolis, at this time, the PPOO followed the National Old Trails Road, including the Eaton Cut-off, towards Dayton, OH.)

By 1923, the PPOO had moved, according to the website http://www.ppoo.org. The 1923 route was moved to come into Indiana along what was original SR 33 across Indiana. OSR 33 became SR 34 (and, later, US 136) from the Illinois-Indiana state line to Crawfordsville, then became SR 32 through Lebanon, Noblesville, Anderson, Muncie and Winchester to the Indiana-Ohio State Line at Union City.

The old PPOO, Rockville Road, by 1923, became SR 31 from SR 10 (future SR 63) to its connection with OSR 3 (the National Road) at what is now Holt Road and Washington Street. (To use the original road, either east or west, requires a journey through a Steak ‘n Shake parking lot. This is a fact that I have repeatedly used throughout the existence of both this blog and the Facebook group that spawned it.)

Indianapolis News, 27 September 1926.
The “Great Renumbering” is about to occur in Indiana.
This snippet shows the pending US 36 description.

With the Great Renumbering of 1 October 1926, US highways were added to the state, and US 36 was among them. The route of the original PPOO, the one that became SR 31, became the route of US 36. However, the section that connected Chrisman, IL, to SR 63 was incomplete and under construction. Since, at the time, it had not been a section of the state highway system, the ISHC was playing catch up to get it up to speed. Also, at the time, the original US 36 connected to the National Road at the above mentioned Steak ‘n Shake (i.e. Washington Street and Holt Road). Holt Road originally came from the south and ended at this intersection. It would be many years later, even after the removal of US 36 to I-465’s south leg, that Holt Road would be built to the dead end (more or less) that it is today.

Indianapolis News, 28 April 1928.
Signs posted by the ISHC at the corner of
Meridian and Washington Streets
in Indianapolis.

That’s right. US 36 ended in Indianapolis. It followed US 40 downtown, but most maps I have seen from the era aren’t detailed enough to show that. The only proof I have of that is a picture from the Indianapolis News of 28 April 1928. It shows a “highway totem pole” at the corner of West Washington Street and Meridian Street. (That point was a multiplex consisting, in the order the state put them, US 40, US 52, US 36 and SR 29. US 36 stayed in that status for at least the next five years.

I am doing further research into the location of US 36 along the Rockville Road/Rockville Avenue corridor. For the longest time, the section that is Rockville Road now from Washington Street to what is called Rockville Avenue didn’t exist. As a matter of fact, official Indiana State Highway Commission maps show that Rockville Avenue was US 36 all the way up to 1930. What is now Rockville Road east of Rockville Avenue, apparently was the dream of the E. L. Cothrell Realty Company. In 1925, they started building a new neighborhood, which could be reached by going “out West Washington street to the 3500 block.” By 1927, it would finally list the Rockville Road as part of the marketing, as all houses would front either Creston (the name of the development) or Rockville. As shown in the map below, it would seem that the “new” Rockville Road was built expressly for the Creston development.

Map, courtesy of Google Maps, showing the Rockville Road from Washington Street to the original road now called Rockville Avenue. Creston Drive, the main side street of the Creston development started in 1925 is shown, as well. (Map was captured using Microsoft Snipping Tool on 1 April 2019.

By 1932, the extension of US 36 started. The signs marking US 36 were extended along what was then SR 67 (Massachusetts Avenue/Pendleton Pike) and, when near Pendleton, along SR 9/SR 67 to Huntsville, where a road was authorized to connect Huntsville to Ohio SR 200 at the state line west of Palestine, OH. At that time, the designation US 36 entered Ohio as the cross state line continuation of SR 32 at Union City. That US 36 connected Union City to Greenville, OH.

Indiana State Highway Commission official 1932 map showing US 36 both at Pendleton and in Ohio from Union City to Greenville. The red dotted line from Huntsville east through Sulphur Springs, Mount Summitt, Mooreland to the JCT SR 21 south of Losantville, and the red dotted line from JCT SR 21 north of Losantville, east through Modoc and Lynn to connect OH SR 200 show the authorized route of the extension of US 36.

By 1933, the state had under its jurisdiction the complete route that would be US 36 in Indiana. There were some changes along the way, with sections moved and bypassed here and there. The first bypass was being built in 1935, which would be a replacement for the section through downtown Indianapolis. By 1936, US 36, and SR 67, would be turned north along SR 29 (later US 421, today West Street/Martin Luther King Jr. Street) to 38th Street. Then east along 38th Street to its connection to Pendleton Pike. (BTW – officially, this is the beginning of what is now called Pendleton Pike. 38th Street, at the time, was the edge of the city most of the way. As such, inside 38th Street, the old Pendleton Pike is called Massachusetts Avenue. That will be the subject of a later post…I promise.)

The major bypass would also be in Marion County. In the late 1970’s, the Indiana Highway Department, and its successor, the Indiana Department of Transportation, would start handing state roads back to the counties. In Marion County, as far as US 36 was concerned, that would mean that the designation US 36 would turn onto I-465, using the road from Rockville Road on the west side, along the south leg, to Pendleton Pike on the northeast side.

Carroll County Toll Road Violence

In the late 19th century, laws were passed to allow county governments to purchase the toll roads that existed. The toll road was appraised, and an offer was made by the county to the owners of the road. Often times, it was a pretty straight forward deal. Sometimes, it wasn’t.

In Carroll County, it was not.

Most of the toll roads in the state were gone by the start of the 20th century. However, there was at least one in existence, the Burlington Turnpike. As late as August, 1900, the Burlington road was still a toll road. The Indianapolis News of 23 August 1900 reports that the turnpike company was offering a $2,000 reward for the arrest, and conviction, of the person, or persons, that dynamited a toll house along the road on 21 August 1900.

To that point, according to the article, people opposed to the toll company have destroyed two bridges and two toll houses. The toll keeper at a third toll house received a letter on 22 August, warning him to leave the toll house by that night. He complied. There was thoughts at the time that the third toll house would be dynamited, as well.

The people of Carroll County are up in arms that this old road is still a turnpike. There are several forces at play in the situation, as well. Carroll County commissioners refuse to buy the road. This is also supported by the businessmen of Delphi, that believe that trade would migrate to Logansport. They believe that would take business away “which rightly belong to Delphi.”

Other argue, contrary to the state law concerning such things, that if the road becomes free, it should do so without Carroll County spending any money at all on the project. Cass County already purchased their share of the road. Carroll County offered $400 a mile for the Burlington Pike. The owners in Logansport turned it down for being too low.

The county commissioners, at this point, found themselves in a precarious situation. While it was the goal to make the Burlington Pike a free road, as it was the last toll road in Carroll County, it brought on two very different mindsets that led to a mob rule situation. First were the people that wanted the road purchased but balked at the price. On the other hand were the people that demanded that the toll road company just give it, for free, to the county.

And then the fecal matter hit the rotating air movement machine.

“When it finally became apparent that nothing was to be expected of the commissioners, mutterings of mob law were heard, and in May the big bridge over Deer creek, near Burlington, was burned. A few nights later the Rock creek bridge was fired, and the Rock creek toll-house was destroyed by dynamite. A guard had been stationed at the gate, but he meekly obeyed the leaders of the mob when told to hitch up his horse and get out.”

As if that weren’t enough, the Rock Creek “bridge was not damaged much, and on the following evening the work was completed by a charge of dynamite.” The toll road company responded by placing guards at bridges and toll houses. They also places armed men to patrol the nine miles of road between the Carroll County line and Burlington. “This plan proved effective until Monday night, when it was tacitly understood that hostilities would cease, pending a decision as to purchase. It developed, however, that this change of front was simply a ruse to rid of the guards, and the dynamiters got in their work again Tuesday night.”

The toll road, constructed in 1867, was built using subscriptions and work solicited along the route. The response was great. But the claim was that there was a promise to make the road free after 20 years, or 1887. Certainly not going into 1900. To add insult to injury, the residents of the area claim that very little had been done to the road over the past fifteen years. “The bridges were in poor repair, so that it was unsafe to run traction engines and heavy loads over them.”

Carroll County officials were, apparently, of no help. “The Carroll county officials have offered no assistance. Cass county condemns the lawlessness over the border and declares that such violence would not be tolerated in Cass.”

Another Indianapolis News article, dated 8 May 1901, states that the toll road company and Carroll County officials finally made a purchase agreement. The final purchase price was listed at $3,600. An astute reader will notice that the purchase price agreed to was $400 a mile. I’ll just let that sink in for a minute.

The last article mentioned that “this turnpike is a part of the old Government plank road from Indianapolis to Michigan City.” The section that I see six days a week going to and from work still has the original name: Michigan Road.

A follow up news story to the Burlington Road incident discusses the dynamiting of the old Wabash and Erie Canal dam across the Wabash River at Pittsburgh (unincorporated location across the Wabash River from Delphi) twenty years earlier. The guard was overpowered, and the northern half of the dam was blown up. According to the Indianapolis News of 24 August 1900, “no prosecution followed, and it is the opinion of many people now that the efforts of the turnpike company to prosecute those who used dynamite on the Burlington Road will also come to naught.”

As an aside, apparently mob rule in Carroll County was a big problem. Someone started a saloon in Burlington, only to have it repeatedly dynamited. The exact word used in the newspaper was “frequently.”

US 31 In Johnson and Marion Counties

When the state highway system was finally created with the State Highway Commission law of 1919, it was immediately apparent that there were some shortcomings in the designated system. A lot of these shortcomings came from the fact that the state road system was pasted to the top of an already county road system in place at the time. Even then, some of these roads were as old, or older, as the state itself. Towns were built along these old routes, crowding in on the road. When the state needed to expand the system, the towns were already in the way.

A typical example of this is what became US 31 out of Indianapolis, both north and south. I covered the US 31 route north of Indianapolis on 20 March 2019. While doing some research on something else, I found articles concerning the route of US 31 south of Indianapolis. Especially the section from Greenwood to Franklin.

For those that don’t know, the original route of Main Market Highway 1/OSR 1/US 31 followed the old Madison State Road, a route that started at South and Meridian Streets in Indianapolis south through Southport, Greenwood, Franklin, Edinburgh, and Columbus. At Columbus, the original road turned southeast through Vernon to Madison. What became US 31 south of Columbus was another road connecting to Louisville.

The first problem (south of Indianapolis) with the route came to the town of Greenwood. Greenwood was incorporated as a town long after both the Madison State Road and the Madison & Indianapolis Railroad came through northern Johnson County. (Incorporation – 1864) With the traffic coming through Greenwood, the area around what is now Main Street and Madison Avenue, and along Main Street to the railroad, became very clustered with buildings. (Contrary to popular opinion, the center of Greenwood isn’t either on Main Street, or Madison Avenue. It’s actually at the corner of Meridian Street [the Greenwood version] and Broadway Street.)

The situation came to a head in 1931 when the state wanted to pave and expand US 31 south of Indianapolis. Even through the town of Southport, which was only skirted by the old Madison State Road, expansion would not have been that big a deal. Even through what is now northern Greenwood, there was room for expansion. But the central intersection of the town became a thorn in the side of the ISHC. Adding insult to injury, there was parking allowed on both sides of the highway through central Greenwood. The Edinburgh Courier of 20 March 1931 states “when asked about prohibiting parking in Greenwood on the highway route, members of the Greenwood town board stated that such an order had been adopted some time ago but that the merchants had complained, forcing the withdrawal of the order.”

At the time of the article, there was a discussion to build a new US 31 around the town. The article states “the new roadway to leave the present route south of Greenwood and to pass through several real estate developments north of Greenwood before rejoining the present pavement.” It also states that “when a similar plea for the widening of Road 31 route was made, a movement was proposed at Greenwood to widen Madison Avenue, over which Road 31 traffic passes, by the moving back of buildings or the razing of a part of the buildings to make possible the widening of the street.” So, basically, in 1931 there were two options: bypass or tear down.

As it turned out, neither option would be acted upon at the time. The ISHC found another plan to help reduce traffic from Indianapolis to Franklin. The idea was to have traffic travel the old Three Notch Road, which would become SR 35, to Old Bargersville, then along a newly acquired state road from Old Bargersville to Franklin. That new road would become SR 144. As it turned out, this proposed “solution” was part of the ISHC plan of 1931.

The pending paving of US 31, as discussed above, would leave in place the current conditions of US 31 from Indianapolis to the corner of Main and Jefferson Streets in Franklin. The route of US 31 through Franklin would not be completely addressed until 1947.

As it turned out, the widening of US 31 at Greenwood would happen with the starting of construction on a bypass of Southport and Greenwood in 1941, a decade after the article quoted above. Part of the irony of that is the fact that part of the congestion of the right-of-way of the old road was the “Greenwood” interurban line from Indianapolis to Columbus. In 1941, the last interurban out of Indianapolis, on this line, had a head on crash in Edinburgh, ending the railroad company. By the opening of the bypass in 1942, the interurban was being ripped out.

The old Madison State Road through Perry Township, Marion County, and Pleasant Township, Johnson County, would be redesignated SR 431, just like the northern section of old US 31 through Broad Ripple and Carmel. It would stay that way until 1986, when the state gave it back to Indianapolis and Greenwood (after a major widening project in Indianapolis, mind you).

When Property Owners Put Themselves Ahead of Military

In 1903, the United States Army opened a fort in Lawrence Township called Fort Benjamin Harrison. It was quite the fixture in Marion County for a lot of years, until the late 1990s when the federal government decided that the fort was no longer needed. Fort Benjamin Harrison was returned to the state, most of which became Fort Harrison State Park. But if one property owner had his way, the fort would have moved out a long time before it actually did…like in 1918.

The Indianapolis News of 27 May 1918 reports that a project that the military wanted was on hold due to a lawsuit filed by a property owner. The project in question was the improvement in Lawrence Township of the Pendleton Pike, the quickest route between downtown Indianapolis and Fort Benjamin Harrison.

John Reichart, through his lawyer William V. Rooker, filed a suit in circuit court against the improvement of the Pendleton Pike. His suit was intended to benefit property that he owned along the Thomas C. Day Road. According to the article, “due to particularities of the antique road laws of Indiana, may have a priority right of construction over the Pendleton Pike.” The suit was brought on the theory that the payment by the county for the Pendleton Pike project “would cloud the title of his client’s property in view of the priority right this road might have over the Pendleton Pike.” The road in question forms the township line between Warren and Lawrence Townships. That road today is called 38th Street.

Due to the road indebtedness limit of Lawrence Township, the improvement of both roads would not be possible. The Chamber of Commerce, through its military affairs committee, started out to get all of the petitioners of the Day Road to sign waivers allowing for improvement of Pendleton Pike. Forty five people signed the waivers. There were only three people that did not.

The first hearing of the suit was set for 1 June 1918, in the court room of Judge Louis B. Ewbank. Although Judge Ewbank could deny the injunction, “an appeal to the supreme court might still further delay the work on the road.” At this point, according to the News, the improvement of the Pendleton Pike could be delayed until 1919.

The question that comes up is why did the state not step in and claim the road for the state? Well, the constitutionality of the State Highway Commission law of 1917 was still in play. It wouldn’t be until the new law was passed in 1919 that state could have done anything about it. Even then, the Pendleton Pike wasn’t accepted into the state system, at least to the Marion-Hancock County Line, until at least 1922. By 1923, the road all the way to Pendleton became state road 37.

Due to World War I, traffic to and from Fort Harrison increased exponentially. Crushed stone was put on the old Pike out to Acre (now Post) Road. County commissioners “spent practically all of the road maintenance fund of the county in keeping up the repair of the fort roads as best they could.” John J. Griffith, county road superintendent, describes the graveling, at a cost of $8,000, was “like throwing money into a ditch as far as any permanent benefit was concerned. The traffic to the fort made it necessary for half of this stretch of road to be temporarily repaired, while the other half was used by vehicles.” The county is, at the time of this article, trying to get the Thirtieth Street road from Pendleton Pike to the post, or Acre, road improved as a bypass to allow construction on the Pike. Acre Road is a stone road running from Washington Street (National Road) north to the fort. It is reported in good condition.

Mr. Johnson, County Attorney, recommended that another way of fixing the road may be available. “The surest way to get the permanent improvement of the pike in Lawrence township completed by fall would be for a number of patriotic men to agree to underwrite the bonds for the improvement, so that the contractor could go ahead with the work while the legal questions were being thrashed out.” The bonds in question were estimated to be in the neighborhoo of $73,000.

The News makes the point that the Day Road would be of no benefit to the fort. It is also noted that it is “doubtful if the state council of defense would give its approval for its construction at this time even though the question of the fort road were not involved.”

A motion in the case would be filed on 21 May 1918 to separate the actions into two cases, one for Pendleton Pike, and one for the Main Market Highways. It would seem that the lawsuit filed by William Rooker had postponed not only the Pendleton Pike work, but also that on the Main Market Highways designated by the State Highway Commission law of 1917.

By 4 July 1918, the News reported the the State Council of Defense recommended that Marion County’s Center Township annex Lawrence Township to ensure that the Pike gets the improvements needed. Even the lawyer, William Rooker, stated that he would drop his lawsuit if this plan was put into place. Needless to say, there were eight other governmental townships in Marion County, and the residents of those townships, that were not at all enthused with the idea of becoming part of Center Township.

Through the efforts of both Marion County and the State of Indiana, Fort Benjamin Harrison would remain in Lawrence Township. As it turned out, the end of World War I in 1918 would decrease the crush of traffic to the fort, allowing some time to complete the Pendleton Pike and Day Road projects.

Toll Roads, and State Takeover

There was a point in Indiana transportation history when the majority of “improved roads” in the state were toll roads. The National Road, for instance, originally built across Indiana in the 1830’s, fell, by 1842, into the maintenance responsibility of the counties through which it passed. Congress turned over the National Road to the state in 1848. In 1852, the entire road was let to a toll road company.

The National Road wasn’t the only one. Almost every major road in the state went through the toll road treatment. It wasn’t only the “state” roads that ended up being made into turnpikes. Land owners could, and did, by law create their own toll roads.

In 1883, a law was passed by the Indiana General Assembly that allowed for the “Appraisement, Purchase and Conversion of Toll Roads into Free Roads, and for their Maintenance as Free Roads.” This allowed counties to purchase toll roads when :they have been petitioned to do so by a majority of the land owners and stockholders in said toll road.” Often times, it would be put to a vote by the residents of the county. From what I have seen in newspapers, Cass County (Logansport) tried at least three times to get a positive vote. It would take several years for this law to become fully used by the counties of the state.

The Richmond Item of 10 February 1893 reported that the county had issued its list of purchase prices for toll roads in Wayne County. (For instance, The National Road was appraised at $12,000. This would end up not being the original road east of Richmond, having been replaced by the Richmond-Eaton Pike. That road is now called “Old National Road.”) The Fort Wayne Daily News of 13 December 1897 reports that Allen County has finally appraised the Fort Wayne and Little River Turnpike, the last toll road in Allen County.

Indianapolis News, 25 October 1889. List of toll roads that
were purchased by the Marion County commissioners
to become “free gravel” roads.

The purchases were going on all over the state. Looking through newspapers.com, with a search of “toll road” from every available newspaper in Indiana, the number of newspapers is fairly large. That only includes entries between 1800 and 1940.

Indianapolis News, 25 October 1889. List of roads that still
collect tolls, but have been petitioned to be purchased.

The attached snippets show the toll and free road situation in Marion County in October 1889. The bottom of the picture to the left shows that, at this time, Marion County contained 215 miles of gravel road, 70 being toll roads. Looking at a map of Marion County of that period, this is just a very small percentage of the roads in the county.

Until the counties started taking over the turnpikes (or toll roads, you decided which to use), toll houses were not only a common sight all around Indiana, they were basically landmarks. There is still one in existence along the old Michigan Road northwest of Indianapolis. Another Jim Grey entry, “For sale: Michigan Road Toll House” covers this quite well.

Now, the only toll road in the state is the Indiana Toll Road that runs across the top tier of counties. It is basically an extension of one toll road (or turnpike in Ohio and Pennsylvania) from Chicago to Philadelphia. This may change in the future. No one can ever be sure.

The Tail of Two Roads: National Road and Centerville State Road

Look at a map of Indiana, and one will notice that the direct route between Centerville and Indianapolis is US 40. While this is true, it is also not entirely so. First, reroutes and bypasses of the old road, especially between Knightstown and Dunreith, have made the route slightly longer. (The above mentioned section can be traveled by the old road, mostly. The Dunreith end has been moved for safety reasons.)

But, there is a second thing to consider here. The first route to connect Indianapolis and Centerville was the Centerville State Road. This road ran slightly south of the path of the future National Road from Greenfield east. This state road was built in 1832 over what was mainly a path. Parts of this route still exist in places. But most of it has been abandoned over the years having been replaced by the National Road in (at least in Hancock County) 1835.

Along the way, some towns just sort of went away because the road went away. There was a village south of Knightstown on the old Centerville State Road called West Liberty. The Indiana Gazetteer of 1833 lists the village as being “on the west bank of the Blue River on the road leading from Centreville (original spelling) to Indianapolis.” That road forms the county line, at that point, between Rush and Henry Counties.

According to an article in the Greenfield Daily Reporter of 08 October 1928, the old state road ran “practically due east and west.” The article goes on to say that the “National Road, although few realize it, veers slightly to the north as it goes eastward.” A quick glance at a map of Indiana, in closer detail, puts the old Centerville State Road on a line basically even with what is now 10th Street in Indianapolis. (Actually, the road that forms the geographic center of Marion County.) Centerville is on a straight line with what would be 25th Street (1.5 miles north). Richmond is on a line that would connect to 30th Street (2 miles north of 10th Street).

With the coming of the National Road, the old road fell into disuse. It would be abandoned in parts, revert to township (and, ultimately, county) control in others. I can’t begin to state with any certainty the route that the old route took to get the 1.5 miles north into Centerville.

Looking at the attached Google map image, the old state road, if it ran true east and west, would be the main street in Milton, Indiana, in the lower left hand corner. Just looking at the map shows a possible route. But since the road was abandoned in places, I am not willing to say with any absolute conviction that that was the road. More research is coming. Who knows, it may end with what George Carlin said his teachers said in class: “it’s a mystery.”

US 31 in Hamilton and Marion Counties

When the original State Highway Commission law was passed in March 1917, one of the original “Main Market Highways” was the Range Line Road north of Indianapolis. This was designated Highway 1. The Range Line Road was, and still is, built basically due north and south through most of Hamilton County, and followed the old Westfield Pike through northern Marion County to Broad Ripple.

The old road followed what is now Meridian Street north to the old Central Canal, where it turned to follow the canal to near its connection at White River. The old road is called “Westfield Boulevard” through this section.

What this Google Map doesn’t show is how tight the road actually gets through this section. One of the purposes of the state road system was to make truck routes throughout the state. The system is designed so that all trucks, with some marked exceptions, be allowed to use the designated routes without hassles. The section at Broad Ripple was a little questionable with the width of the road in spots.

From Broad Ripple, the old road followed basically a straight line, the Range Line, to just south of Kokomo. Through when entering the old section of Carmel, the road name became Range Line Road, a tribute to the old Auto Trail name. North of Carmel, it was called Westfield Road until it reached Westfield, where it became Union Street.

This route, on 1 October 1926, became part of US 31. The limitations of the route had been apparent from the beginning. They really became a problem with more trucks on the road. It wasn’t long until the State Highway Commission decided to bypass the section from Broad Ripple to Carmel.

In 1929, plans were announced to build a new US 31 from the Central Canal to just north of downtown Carmel. There were some that didn’t like the idea. The citizens of Carmel didn’t like the idea of being removed from the state highway. They recommended connecting the new road from the canal north along what is now Meridian Street to the old road near Nora.

History shows us that the town of Carmel didn’t get their way. Sort of. And, well, bypass wasn’t exactly true either.

For starters, the new US 31 Carmel bypass was built to connect to the old road just south of what is now 146th Street, pretty much like it is now. The difference is that the road now known as Old Meridian Street was the bypass, not the current section from basically between where 121st Street would be and 136th Street/Smokey Row Road. The current US 31 in that section is a bypass of the bypass.

It’s not hard to see where the original bypass and the new bypass start and end in this Google Map.

The second thing that happened did address the fact that Carmel would have been removed from the state highway system. The old road was changed from US 31 to SR 431. This really didn’t fix the problems with the old road. It wouldn’t be until the mid-1960s that the suggestion that Carmel had made was acted upon. Again, sort of. By that time, construction of I-465 was moving right along, and the route of SR 431 was moved to follow Keystone Avenue from SR 37 (Fall Creek Parkway) north to 86th Street, then west along 86th Street to Westfield Boulevard. A couple of years later, with the completion of both I-465 and Keystone Avenue to 146th Street, the original SR 1/US 31/Range Line Road was reverted to local control. (As an aside, it would be a little over 30 years later that SR 431 was completely removed from the state road system.)

But it wasn’t ALL bad with the moving of US 31. First, it made traffic flow better and safer (ahem…well). Second, the state built built a beautiful bridge over the White River on what is now just Meridian Street. (US 31 inside I-465 was decommissioned on 1 July 1999, making Meridian Street a city property.) Jim Grey, a fellow blogger and road geek, posted a great write up about it. He comes at it with both a road geek and a photographer view.

It can be seen here:
https://blog.jimgrey.net/2017/03/17/the-meridian-street-bridge-over-the-white-river/


Indiana Roads Before the 1919 State Highway Commission

In the early 20th century, the Good Roads Movement was taking hold in the United States. This had led to a number of Auto Trails throughout the country. In January 1912, the newly formed American Automobile Association held a “Federal Aid Good Roads Convention” in Washington, DC. It was so successful that another one was planned for 6 March 1913. The goal was to encourage Congress to appropriate money to help build better roads across America. Success in this goal occurred in 1914.

Then, there is Indiana. One of the requirements in the Federal Aid program is that Washington would only deal with a State authority for distribution of funds. No more local roads authority would have access to federal funds. The law creating the Indiana State Highway Commission was passed in 1917. This created a “Market Highway System,” which consisted of five roads to be helped with state aid. In 1919, the law was updated, allowing the creation of a complete state road system connecting “every county seat and town with a population of more than 5,000.”

But what exactly did the State Highway Commission inherit when it was created? Indiana, at that time, consisted of a patch work of roads maintained by either county or local authorities. There were some remaining toll pikes, but these were being taken over by county authorities as the others had been. Maintenance depended greatly on the authority in control. This led to some very spotty road conditions…at best. This map of Marion County in 1917 shows the sporadic nature of maintenance levels. (http://cdm16066.contentdm.oclc.org/cdm/singleitem/collection/p15078coll8/id/2892/rec/29)

Part of what made things interesting, when it came to maintenance authority, is that every road in Indiana, with the exception of the long distance roads that became toll roads, was maintained by one of the 1,016 government townships that exist in Indiana. (The distinction is made here about the “government township.” There are two types of township in Indiana. One is the government township, which can take any shape and contains a government authority. The other is a survey township, which is [usually] a six mile by six mile square separated by “township lines” on the north and south, and “range lines” on the east and west.)

This led to some interesting road conditions, to say the least. Indiana had, at the time, a “three mile law.” This law required the commissioners of a county to construct a road “when 50 freeholders of a township petition” the county “for the construction of a road not more than three miles in length.” This would then require the county to charge the cost to everyone in the township, whether they use, or even have access to, the road being asked for by petition.

Townships could decide to improve and maintain roads on their own. This leads to interesting situations like a nice gravel road coming to a screeching halt at a township boundary, only to be a dirt road on the other side of that line. An example is in the linked map above. Morris Street (a major east-west road on the south of downtown, mostly on the west side) is listed as “gravel or improved.” At least in Wayne Township. Once across the Center-Wayne Township Line, also known as Belmont Street, Morris Street becomes listed as “ordinary or mud.” (Getting back to the two kinds of townships, literally right in the middle of Center Township is a place where Morris Street is replaced by Prospect Street. This happens at a Range Line, today known as Shelby Street.)

After 1900 or so, as longer sections of road were improved, the county would take the responsibility of maintenance. Basically, the township would pay for the upgrade of the road. Then the county would come in and take over maintenance from that point. This led to a mixed bag of maintenance authorities. It was into this situation that the Indiana State Highway Commission was placed in the middle of to allow the use of federal funds for construction and maintenance. Starting with five roads in 1917 to the current ~12,000 miles of highways today.


INDOT’s 12,000 mile limit

(Or: How do you get to Indianapolis?)

This entry originally appeared in the Indiana Transportation History Facebook group on 16 July 2014.

I have been asked many times why the state of Indiana has been removing roads from the state highway system. Other than the obvious reroutes for traffic efficiency, INDOT is limited by IC 8-23-4-2 as follows: “(a) The state highway system shall be designated by the department. The total extent of the state highway system may not exceed twelve thousand (12,000) miles.”

There is a lot more to the code (for instance: “The state highway system consists of the principal arterial highways in Indiana and includes the following: (1) A highway to the seat of government in each county.”

So why are there no state roads – other than I-65 and I-70 – in Indianapolis? The 12,000 mile rule appears here in glowing fashion.

I-465, for most of its length, is NOT just I-465. Other than the obvious I-74 multiplex (the official term for a road that travels the same path as another) on the west and south sides of the city, depending where you are on I-465, you could be on as many as SEVEN different routes. Take the two mile section from I-65 to US 31 South (East Street) on the south side. At that point, you are technically on I-465, I-74, US 31, US 36, US 40, SR 37, and SR 67. For maintenance recording, that is 14 miles of road in those two miles. For Indiana Code purposes, it is still only two miles. This allows INDOT to have more roads in the system while keeping to the 12,000 mile limit. (And for another fun fact, eventually that section of I-465 will also be part of I-69! That makes EIGHT routes that are in that very small section of interstate. And US 31, SR 37 and US 40 didn’t count until July 1, 1999. Prior to that, US 52 was on that section – but that was rerouted in the mid-90’s to the north side on 465.)

The beauty of bypasses is that they only count once, even though they may be numerous multiplexed roads.

The 12,000 mile limit also creates situations that simply do not exist in other states. For instance, when SR 44 was closed between Franklin and Shelbyville, the INDOT approved detour was north on I-65, to I-465, to I-74 to SR 44 east of Shelbyville. Other states have more state routes connecting places, and they tend to be closer together, making a 42 mile detour completely ridiculous. (The other INDOT route – consisting only of state highways – would have been only 32 miles via I-65, SR 252, SR 9 and SR 44. Still completely ridiculous, honestly.)