TERRE HAUTE —
Slow traffic ahead.
The warning signs are already out along Interstate 70 from the Indiana-Illinois state line to Indianapolis.
As the weather improves, road projects are blossoming along with spring flowers across the state, and the public is being urged to be prepared for traffic slowdowns and to pay attention to other motorists who may not be so alert.
“We need the cooperation of all drivers to obey the speed limits, not follow too closely, be prepared to slow or stop and wear vehicle restraints,” said Sgt. Joe Watts of the Indiana State Police at Putnamville, recalling the crash-prone months last year during I-70 construction projects.
“Last year was a very busy time for ISP and other emergency responders along the I-70 corridor from Illinois to the Hendricks/Marion County Line,” Watts aid. “Within the counties of Vigo, Clay, Putnam, and Hendricks, there were 535 crashes reported with 438 listed as property damage, 88 listed as personal injury with 139 injuries, and 9 listed as fatal crashes with 11 fatalities.”
The number of crashes raised concerns not only among the motoring public in general, but also with local school officials who realized that utilizing I-70 to transport students in buses in construction zones was a risky undertaking.
Vigo County Danny Tanoos said that just like last year, he plans to restrict buses from using I-70 whenever construction zones are present.
“I am thankful every day that we did that last year, considering all of the accidents and fatalities that occurred out there,” Tanoos said.
It might take a bus longer to reach an “away” sporting event or some other extracurricular activity by transporting students on local roads and highways, he said, but it is safer to keep buses out of construction zones where other motorists could cause an accident.
The Indiana Department of Transportation is hoping to alert motorists to the coming projects with signage and construction barrels in advance of pending projects. As soon as today, some projects could begin. Six project are already scheduled for the Terre Haute to Indianapolis corridor, and another project will be sent out for bids in May.
Debbie Calder, communications director for the Crawfordsville district of INDOT, told the Tribune-Star on Tuesday that the first three projects to begin are completions of work started last year.
“The contractor plans on beginning as soon as the weather allows, possibly next week,” Calder said. “The contractor on these three projects has to finish up some guardrail adjustments, pavement markings and a couple of patches.”
Watch for lane restrictions starting in the following areas:
• I-70 from 5.85 miles east of Indiana 59 in Clay County to 3.14 miles west of Indiana 243 in Putnam County.
• I-70 from U.S. 231 in Putnam County to Little Point Road in Morgan County.
• I-70 from 0.5 mile west of Indiana 39 in Hendricks County to 0.47 mile west of Indiana 267 in Hendricks County.
The contractor, Rieth-Riley Construction, plans to be done with these three projects in April.
Another project that could begin as soon as weather allows runs from Little Point (Exit 51) in Morgan County to more than one-half mile west of Indiana 39 in Hendricks County.
Between Terre Haute and Brazil, road work is planned to start in April from one mile east of U.S. 40/Indiana 46 to Indiana 59 in Clay County.
In May, additional road work will run from about three miles west of Indiana 243 to about one-half mile west of U.S. 231, all in Putnam County. That project is expected to be completed by July 31.
One other project is scheduled for bid letting in May, and it is a patch and resurface project on I-70 from one mile west of U.S. 41 in Terre Haute to Indiana 46/U.S. 40 in eastern Vigo County.
The 2012 road construction season kept much of I-70 reduced to one lane of travel in each direction for most of the summer, with some exceptions during holiday weekends when the lane restrictions were temporarily lifted.
Early in the year, police agencies noticed an increase in traffic accidents -- from crashes involving merges to chain-reaction rear-endings that clogged the traffic zones.
“ISP and INDOT quickly noticed the frequency and severity of the crashes and began to hold meetings to remedy the problem,” Sgt. Watts recalls. “While ISP was working around the clock in the construction zones, crashes were still occurring.”
INDOT made some changes in lane restrictions and the time limits on lane closures, and that seemed to help reduce the crashes, he said.
“But make no mistake about it, the vast majority of the crashes were due to driver error -- such as distractions, speeding, failure to reduce speed to avoid a crash, following too closely and not paying attention to road signage,” Watts said.
“In my 27-years with the ISP, 2012 appeared to the busiest for I-70 crashes,” Watts said. “The crashes appeared preventable if the drivers were paying better attention to their driving. We cannot stress that enough, drivers need to pay strict attention to their driving. Lives depend on it.”
Reporter Lisa Trigg can be reached at 812-231-4254 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @TribStarLisa.
TERRE HAUTE —
Slow traffic ahead.
- Local & Bistate
Indianapolis closing nightlife street on weekends
Indianapolis officials will close the main street through a nightlife district to motor vehicles on Friday and Saturday nights to reduce violence there.
Man revives 3-year-old who was face down in pool
Authorities in central Indiana say a man revived his 3-year-old son after spotting the boy face down in an apartment complex pool.
Vigo County Jail Log: July 11, 2014
The following individuals were booked into the Vigo County Jail by area law enforcement on Thursday and Friday, based on jail records.
New exhibits set to open at Red Skelton museum
VINCENNES (AP) — Events are being planned for the opening of new exhibits at the museum celebrating the career of the late comedian Red Skelton in his southwestern Indiana hometown.
10 Things to Know for Friday
Your daily look at late-breaking news, upcoming events and the stories that will be talked about today:
Mayor: City will not file bankruptcy
The Terre Haute City Council took well more than an hour to ask questions and discuss the health of the city’s finances with top city officials in a special meeting Thursday night. A few councilmen expressed grave concern about the financial picture, while Mayor Duke Bennett said things were improving.
State official threatens prosecution of city leaders who talk about audit
A state official has threatened to pursue the prosecution of city officials if they violate a confidentiality agreement signed last month.
ISU, 181st Intelligence Wing show off capabilities at expo
Communication and getting unmanned eyes in the sky can be vital parts of responding to a natural or man-made disaster.
Feds relent: Military to restore equipment program for fire departments
An agreement has been reached to keep surplus military equipment rolling into rural fire department bays in Indiana and 47 other states.
UW kicks off pilot campaign
Dottie King remembers the day she saw a young man leaving St. Ann’s Dental Clinic after having 17 teeth pulled. He had not received sufficient dental care before that day so his need was dramatic. That was unlike King, who had visited the dentist regularly since childhood, but still found getting a tooth filled not on her list of fun things to do. “I thought to myself, ‘I never have thought about the blessing of dental care,’” King recalled, sharing that story on Thursday morning with other volunteers for the United Way of the Wabash Valley.
Indiana’s director of homeland security sees unmanned systems’ potential
Integrating unmanned flight systems into use for domestic surveillance can provide first responders with key information in responding to fires, earthquakes and man-made disasters, said John Hill, director of the Indiana Department of Homeland Security.
Stunt performer scheduled to be at Wigwam
A celebrity stunt man named Jim “Crash” Moreau is scheduled to perform at Terre Haute’s Wigwam Skate and Event Center on Saturday.
Rain barrels offered for sale
The Vigo County Soil and Water Conservation District is taking orders for 55-gallon rain barrels.
Tips lead to meth lab bust
Two people were arrested after police busted a clandestine methamphetamine lab Thursday in the 2200 block of Fourth Avenue in Terre Haute.
Police bust meth lab in Terre Haute
Police busted a clandestine methamphetamine lab today in the 2200 block of Fourth Avenue in Terre Haute.
UPDATE: Ethics panel approves $5K fine against Bennett
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Indiana’s State Ethics Commission has approved a $5,000 fine against former state schools Superintendent Tony Bennett for using state resources in his 2012 campaign.
Vigo County Jail Log: July 10, 2014
The following individuals were booked into the Vigo County Jail by area law enforcement on Wednesday and Thursday, based on jail records.
Group: 5,000 same-sex marriages in Illinois
A survey indicates thousands of same-sex couples are marrying in Illinois.
Study: Hunting restores forests in state parks
A study by a Purdue University research team has found that regulated deer hunts in Indiana state parks have helped restore forests damaged by too many white-tailed deer.
Historic Ohio Boulevard house inspired by 1948 Cary Grant movie
Spurred in 1948 by a newly released movie staring Cary Grant and Myrna Loy, coupled with a growing post-World War II housing market, General Electric partnered with Hollywood’s RKO Studios to build “dream homes” throughout the country.
A panel of public and private officials is calling for $10 billion in projects to upgrade Indiana’s aging roads and bridges, but its members concede there’s no money to pay for it all.
MARK BENNETT: Making road work a barrel of fun for drivers
We’re lucky orange barrels can’t talk.
City Council to take up city finances tonight
The Terre Haute City Council will have a chance in a special meeting tonight to delve deeply into the city’s financial health. However, council members are being asked to avoid raising the most controversial subject of recent weeks: The city’s use of Redevelopment Commission tax increment finance (TIF) money.
Bennett accepts $5,000 fine in ethics settlement
Former Indiana Schools Superintendent Tony Bennett has agreed to pay $5,000 as part of a settlement with Indiana’s ethics watchdog in which he admits to using state resources for campaign work but is cleared of formal ethics violations in the grade-change scandal that cost him his job as Florida’s schools chief last year.
Vermillion Jail trusties face new charges
Two former inmate trusties at the Vermillion County Jail face new criminal charges after a recently discovered security breach at the jail.
Lawrence police acquire armored military vehicle
A central Indiana city has acquired an armored military vehicle for use in highly dangerous situations.
Free carwash for law enforcement
Mike’s Carwash locations in Central Indiana, including Terre Haute, will honor the sacrifice of IMPD Officer Perry Renn and thank all those who serve and protect our communities with a free carwash for police and emergency personnel today and Friday.
Indiana agencies told to ignore gay marriages
Indiana Gov. Mike Pence’s office is telling state agencies act as if no gay marriages had been performed during three days following a federal court order.
State reports West Nile virus-infected mosquitoes
INDIANAPOLIS — State health officials confirmed the first signs of West Nile virus activity in Indiana for 2014. Mosquitoes in Marshall and Pike counties have tested positive for West Nile virus. There have been no reported cases of West Nile virus in humans in the state this year.
Indiana education board faces contentious meeting
Indiana’s State Board of Education is gearing up for another showdown between Democratic schools Superintendent Glenda Ritz and Republican Gov. Mike Pence’s appointees and staff.
The board is set to consider a pair of resolutions dealing with control of the board during a meeting Wednesday.
- More Local & Bistate Headlines
- Indianapolis closing nightlife street on weekends