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.)

The Facebook post that started it all.

On 31 May, 2014, I started a group on Facebook with the same name as this blog: Indiana Transportation History. My admin partner over there, Jim Grey, recommended I come over here. His reasoning was sound: Facebook wants the “now,” but all the work I have done to this point is just almost unavailable…or at least hard to get to. (This was brought home when I was scrolling through the group to get to the subject of this post and it took almost 15 minutes.)

So, I finally got to the end of the line when it came to the earliest posts.

And, hence, I start this new journey of the ITH with the first post that started the original journey on Facebook.

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Looking through the Indianapolis News (one of my other interests is genealogy, so I have a subscription to newspapers.com) of 20 Jun 1891, I notice on page four a series of paragraphs about bicycling in Marion and surrounding counties.

This brings to mind the point that the “Good Roads Movement” of the late 19th and early 20th century had less to do with automobiles than it did with bicycling (and mail delivery).

A post somewhere else on Facebook pointed out that travel inns were located between 10 and 15 miles from each other along major routes because that is how far one could get in a DAY in horse-drawn wagons.

Imagine, if you will, that the highways we all use today, were the results of people wanting to ride bicycles safely.

It also gives a different slant on all of the bike routes that the city of Indianapolis is building, doesn’t it?