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Thursday, Apr. 28, 2016

Accident confirms local officials' worst fears

Thursday, June 17, 2010

This overturned semi kept Veteran's Memorial Highway closed for about 6 hours Wednesday. [Order this photo]
GREENCASTLE -- A tractor-trailer overturned on a smaller vehicle was a shocking sight this morning. However, for officials with the city and local schools, an accident at the intersection of Veteran's Memorial Highway and Percy Julian Drive is hardly surprising.

With Greencastle Middle School and Greencastle High School so near the intersection, traffic was already heavy, particularly around times of school arrival and dismissal.

The addition of Ivy Tech on the southeast corner has only increased the problem.

For this reason, the city and the schools have been lobbying INDOT for some time to get a traffic signal installed at the location. Just last week, Mayor Sue Murray received correspondence from INDOT's Scott Burress informing her the location had fallen short of the criteria.

Among the considerations were excessive traffic and excessive speed, neither of which the studies found to be present.

"What we found was that the speed limit is 40 mph, and traffic was traveling at an average of 41 mph through this area," Burress said in his e-mail. "With that finding, we do not have an ability to adjust our criteria."

However, this finding raises more questions than it does answers for both Murray and GMS Principal Shawn Gobert.

"What they said was our average speed was 41 mph. Of course, the question on that, is it 41 mph at school time, is it 41 mph as an average? Do people respond to the 25 mph (at the beginning and end of school)?" Murray said.

Gobert, who was one of the first people on the scene, echoed Murray's thoughts.

"The speed limit when the light is flashing before, during and after school is 25 mph," Gobert said in an e-mail this morning to INDOT officials. "What was the average during those hours? If the average was 41 during a 24-hour period, then it seems the vehicles are not slowing like they should during school hours -- or they are going very fast when the light isn't flashing if they are going 25 during the day."

Ivy Tech's presence only compounds the issue. The new campus has been such a success that officials are expecting enrollment to once again increase in the coming year. Ivy Tech Greencastle executive director Sharon Bone expressed her frustrations with the state's findings.

"I think with the increased enrollment we're anticipating, it's just going to be a worse situation. That intersection's very dangerous, and we've known that," Bone said. "It's impossible to go straight or turn left out of the college onto that major highway. It's very, very unfortunate."

At this point, the fear is the light may have to come as a reaction to this accident or something even worse. In this case, both drivers escaped without serious injury. The hope is there is no next time with more serious consequences.

Gobert expressed these feelings to INDOT officials.

"My biggest fear is that we will be reactive and put a light out there some day after a person -- or a carload of people -- die. This is an ongoing and sad case of red tape and bureaucracy prevailing over sound judgment," Gobert said.

Murray concurred.

"You can't have increasing traffic at a dangerous intersection and think that something isn't going to happen someday, sometime," Murray said. "Unfortunately, we've got someone who has been significantly hurt in an accident. We have a semi driver who, I'm sure, is carrying a tremendous burden. Fortunately, there wasn't anybody else in that vehicle."

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If you look at this intersection from the viewpoint of "excessive traffic" instead of "excessive speed",signal is warranted-law enforcement handles speed,signals handle vehicle movement through the congested intersection-it's in the Manual for Uniform Traffic Control Devices(MUTCD)....

-- Posted by kubotafan on Thu, Jun 17, 2010, at 7:21 AM

How can they use speed as a criteria when a large portion of the traffic is slowing down to turn to go to the schools or Ivy Tech?

Next time the black rubber tubes are across the road, hopefully the GPD officers will patrol other areas of the city so that we as concerned citizens can assure INDOT that speed is indeed an issue there!

-- Posted by VolunteerFF on Thu, Jun 17, 2010, at 7:53 AM

I don't know if excessive speed was the cause of the accident or not, but I know that there usually are cars going over the speed limit on St Rd 240. City officials are dreaming though, if they think a stop light there will keep all accidents from happening. People run stop lights all the time or try to beat the light change.

-- Posted by not gullible on Thu, Jun 17, 2010, at 9:15 AM

I just moved here from the state of Iowa, and live close to this area, and common sense tells you , we need a traffic light there, three schools close by, good grief, we have to protect our kids,and their are industrial areas here as well,

-- Posted by steve.abney@yahoo.com on Thu, Jun 17, 2010, at 2:40 PM

just place a stoplight there any way

-- Posted by 5catsondrugs on Thu, Jun 17, 2010, at 3:02 PM

US 240 is supposed to be an easy way to bypass town. There are many restrictions in place regarding the road, keeping the traffic flowing as smooth as possible. Why should a light be put in disrupting that? I agree that you will just have drivers hurrying to get through the stoplight. Just leave it alone and let the police do their job there.

-- Posted by bannerreader on Fri, Jun 18, 2010, at 2:26 AM

I agree with bannerreder, Place more Law Enforcement Officials in that area and issue more citation to those who choose to Speed in that area. Or better yet, how about a Circle in place of a stop light? Or will that confuse too many as to who it works....

-- Posted by Afghan Contractor on Sun, Jun 20, 2010, at 11:00 PM

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