TERRE HAUTE —
Local motorists are being urged to avoid eastbound Interstate 70 Thursday night and early Friday because of planned, short-term lane closures.
The Indiana Department of Transportation will be closing both lanes of eastbound I-70 at about the 13-mile marker for 20-minute intervals starting at 11 p.m. Thursday through 6 a.m. Friday to allow workers to remove some damaged beams from the Frye Road overpass in eastern Vigo County.
Traffic will not be stopped for longer than 20 minutes at a time, said Debbie Calder, media relations director for INDOT’s Crawfordsville district.
After each closure, the lanes will re-open to allow all the traffic to clear before stopping traffic again, she said.
No other construction will be taking place in the eastbound lanes of I-70 in that area during the bridge repair work, Calder said. The westbound lanes will continue to see construction work, she said.
The repair work was made necessary after a piece of construction equipment struck and damaged the Frye Road overpass last September.
The same process – involving 20-minute lane closures – will take place in a couple of weeks when new beams are placed in the bridge, Calder said. An exact date for that work has not yet been determined.
Local traffic should use U.S. 40 if at all possible Thursday night and early Friday to avoid the situation, said Sgt. Joe Watts of the Indiana State Police, which will be assisting INDOT manage traffic during the project.
The bridge repair project comes less than two weeks after a pair of crashes on I-70 in Vigo County. Despite those and other incidents, 2013 has been a much better year on the highway than last year, Watts said.
“We’ve not responded to very serious crashes at all,” Watts said. “The majority of our crashes have [involved] minor injuries or property damage only.”
Last year at this time, the ISP had responded to a number of much more serious crashes, he said.
The road construction companies, the state police, local authorities such as sheriff’s departments and INDOT are working closely together this year and learned a lot from last year’s experience, Watts said. In addition, the ISP is taking a number of steps this year, such as stationing troopers at the end of backups to slow approaching vehicles, he said.
“It’s a lot of work for our troopers, but it’s reducing crashes and saving lives,” Watts said.
Reporter Arthur Foulkes can be reached at 812-231-4232 or firstname.lastname@example.org