December 5, 2023

Materials costs put Fishers construction plans on hold

FISHERS, Ind. — With inflation reaching an all time high everything is costing more, including…

FISHERS, Ind. — With inflation reaching an all time high everything is costing more, including the materials to build new roundabouts and bridges.

That’s what the city of Fishers is dealing with as bids for one project have come in way over what engineers expected.

The goal is to eliminate all traffic lights on the stretch State Road 37 heading through Fishers. The road intersects with 126th St., 131st St., 135th St., 141st St. and 145th St.

Work has already begun and is expected to be fully completed by fall on all but one of those intersections. 141st St and SR 37 is where the problem lies, and it will for an indefinite amount of time.

“It’s a little hectic and it doesn’t slow down much during the day,” said Benjamin Wann. Wann works near the intersection and drives those roads everyday.

The plan is to make 141st St. into a bridge with two roundabouts to keep traffic moving and have SR 37 go under it.

Rendering of 141st St. and State Road 37

“We have a lot of excavation work that goes into this,” said Hatem Mekky, the Assistant Director of Engineering in Fishers. “State Road 37 will essentially be depressed under 141st Street.”

Mekky said 141st and SR 37 will look similar to the other intersections just up the road. The hold up with the final intersection project is its cost.

“We’ve seen a rise in HMA asphalt prices, concrete prices, steel poles, we’ve seen light poles go up,” Mekky said.

From fuel to retaining walls, Mekky said every construction material is on the rise, but they still did not expect bids for the intersection project to be what they were.

“It was substantially over the engineers estimate,” he said.

Fishers engineers expected the project to cost about $26 million, the lowest bid was $10 million higher and the highest bid was almost double the original expectation.

“We did not expect it to be that much,” Mekky said. “It was surprising for all of us.”

Now, it’s a waiting game for prices to drop and the intersection project is on an indefinite pause.

“Once the market levels off we’ll start getting the contractors out there and start work as soon as possible,” Mekky said.

Anyone who is building anything right now is dealing with higher prices. We reached out to other cities to see how high construction material cost was impacting projects.

A spokesperson for Carmel said the city works to combat rising construction prices by putting out bids during more favorable points during the year, specifying strict timeframes for contractors and making sure actual materials are available.

Indianapolis DPW said the changing prices of materials regularly impacts construction. Adding the current rise is asphalt and other materials is making even more of an impact than usual.

INDOT said construction materials have been more expensive through this first part of 2022.

“It’s not just restricted to gas, it’s everywhere,” said INDOT spokesperson Kyleigh Cramer. “We’re seeing it with asphalt, we’re seeing it with everyone you can think of that goes into building a road or bridge.”

As Fishers waits for prices to drop, folks who drive the area are ready to see the stoplights leave SR 37 in Fishers.

“Drive through the busiest part of town without ever putting foot on a brake,” said Wann.

Mekky expects traffic to ease at the 141st St and SR 37 intersection once construction is completed at similar intersection on either side of State Road 37.