The Bypass is the most direct route for a driver coming from Indianapolis or further north who wants to get to the east side of Bloomington. Congestion is common during rush hours, however, making it difficult for commuters. Problematic intersections include Dunn Street and Fee Lane. Congestion is especially bad during sporting events such as IU football and basketball games. An expansion and widening project by the Department of Transportation started in 2010 centering around the College Avenue intersection.
The Bypass starts at the intersection of 3rd Street and College Mall Road, heading in a northerly direction to 17th Street. It then curves around to the Fee Lane intersection, and travels to the the west to College Avenue.
It carries SR 46 north of 3rd Street, and SR 45 north of 10th Street. West of Fee Lane, it travels to the north of the Indiana University sports complex and Memorial Stadium. It is two-laned east of Walnut Street, but becomes a 4-laned divided highway west of Walnut.
West of College Avenue, at an interchange with SR 37, SR 45 leaves the road and travels south with 37. What is referred to as "The Bypass" unofficially ends here. Highway 46 continues on in a northwesterly direction, passing Curry Pike and Arlington Road--the old SR 46--until it reaches Ellettsville and continues on into western Indiana.
Until a major construction operation in the late 1990s/early 2000s, the Bypass did officially end at SR 37 with a traffic light at the intersection. It had an off-ramp leading to the northbound lanes of 37 and an on-ramp from 37 North to the eastbound lanes of the Bypass. Highway 46 continued north on 37 for just over 2,000 feet to a former off-on ramp from 37 to Arlington Road. The project's results were that the Arlington Road ramp was removed and that 46 went west on its present-day course. The two ramps were kept, with more being added to ease the passage from highway to highway.
The Indiana Department of Transportation began widening several miles of the bypass between Kinser Pike and Third Street starting in December of 2010. This may include improvement of the 10th Street intersection, and widening of 3rd as far as Pete Ellis Drive.