Road Trips

North on the Dixie Highway from Bloomington

A couple weeks ago I drove to Bloomington to see my son, who lives there. When I headed home, I followed the Dixie Highway, old State Road 37, as far as it would take me. Since SR 37 had been upgraded to become I-69, which removed all of the turnoffs to the old alignments, I wasn’t sure what I would find. I was pleased that the old road took me almost to Martinsville. Here’s its route, which now includes some new-terrain road.

Old State Road 37 and the Dixie Highway to where it ended on my September, 2020, trip. Map data ©2020 Google.

For about 14 miles, Old 37 and the Dixie follow a winding path nowhere near the new Interstate. But for the next four miles or so, until it ends, the old road parallels I-69 and acts as its frontage road.

Within those first 14 miles, the old road is just as it always was: lightly traveled and lush. I’ve written about this segment before, here and here.

Old SR 37/Dixie Highway

I had this road entirely to myself this Friday afternoon. On past trips I’ve encountered bicyclists out here; not this time.

Old SR 37/Dixie Highway

This long segment used to exit onto State Road 37, but Interstates are limited access by their nature. Here’s how it exited onto SR 37 northbound when I first visited it in 2007.

Old SR 37

Today, the old road curves the other way into a brand new frontage road.

Old SR 37/Dixie Highway

Shortly the frontage road meets the next old alignment of Old SR 37 and the Dixie Highway. When I last wrote about it, here, I said that an old bridge had been left in place after a new bridge was built alongside it. I got to see the old bridge. It was saved because its qualities put it on the state’s Select list of bridges, which prevents it from being demolished without the state jumping through a whole bunch of hoops. It looks to me like some repairs have been done to it to stabilize it. But it is open now only to pedestrians.

Old SR 37/Dixie Highway

This southbound photograph from the new bridge shows that the old road has been significantly upgraded. Notice how wide it is, compared to the old road on the right.

Old SR 37/Dixie Highway

The new road ends about 2½ miles later, where the older, narrower pavement resumes. Shortly the road dead ends at this old bridge.

Abandoned bridge on 37/DH

I was happy to find this bridge still here, as I’d heard a rumor that it had been removed. But I’m still saddened that it’s closed to traffic after failing an inspection in 2015. Here it is the last time I got to drive on it, which was in 2012. Read more about this bridge here.

Pony trusses

The old highway north of the bridge has been removed, however. What a strange sight.

Abandoned bridge on 37/DH

I’ve heard that this bridge will be repurposed as a pedestrian bridge. I’ve studied the I-69 plan map for this area and it looks like there’s no plan to continue the frontage road from here.

Here’s one final look at this old bridge from the north.

Abandoned bridge on 37/DH

Until I-69 is built around Martinsville, it’s easy enough to return to SR 37: back up from here to the first side road, follow it east until it Ts, turn left, then follow that road until it reaches SR 37.

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10 thoughts on “North on the Dixie Highway from Bloomington

  1. Thanks for this update. When you came to the dead end did you backtrack to the current 37/69 or find a county road into Martinsville?

    • Country road. Backtrack from the bridge to the first road, which is on the left as you head south. Turn left onto it. When it Ts, turn left again. Stay on that road and it eventually meets 37 in in Martinsville.

  2. Great post. When I had a vehicle I enjoyed driving on the roads abandoned by drivers for the new expressways. Turns and hills! Much better than kilometres and kilometres of straight concrete and transport trucks.
    The words “Hindustan” and “Mahalasville” jumped off that map at me. Is there an immigrant population in the area?

    • I enjoy the old roads for the same reasons. I read once some time ago about those town names — I think they were just names that sounded good to the people who settled there.

  3. Darts and Letters says:

    That second picture down (not including the map) is a scenic spot, I like the tunnel of trees. The place name “Hindustan” caught my eye, too.

  4. Old 37 was a big part of my life from 1945 to 1955. I wonder if Cascades Park is still there. It was on the left as you come out of Bloomington, and featured a small waterfall. We used to stop there on the way home from the state fair and eat the watermelons we had purchased from roadside stands along the way.

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