Crews with INDOT were set to begin the installation process around 8:30 a.m. today.
"During our meeting with Greencastle officials, it was agreed a 4-way stop could potentially relieve public concerns at this intersection," said INDOT Crawfordsville District Deputy Commissioner Alan Plunkett.
As of Tuesday morning, a flashing message board was already up from each direction on 240, warning motorists of the four-way stop set to begin today. The boards will remain up for several days after installation.
INDOT's Debbie Calder said in addition to the temporary boards, crews are spending today installing "Be Prepared to Stop" signs, rumble strips, stop ahead signs and dual oversized stop signs.
During the meeting, which included officials from the city, INDOT, Greencastle Schools and Ivy Tech, INDOT reiterated its stance that the intersection does not meet criteria for a stop light.
"INDOT was asked to look into installing a traffic signal at this location," Calder said. "INDOT Traffic Department conducted a signal study and determined the signal criteria was not met per state law. City officials along with both Ivy Tech and Greencastle school officials requested something further be done at this intersection. INDOT decided the next best step would be to install a four-way stop condition."
While local officials did not get exactly what they sought, they are happy to see something being done.
"The good news is that they recognized the fact that it's not a safe intersection," Greencastle Mayor Sue Murray said. "Basically, what they said to us is that they follow the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices, and that is how they get out of being subjective or being accused of being subjective as they interpret things. And most certainly, the city uses that as well."
With Greencastle Middle School and Ivy Tech occupying opposite corners of the intersections, leaders from each institution were happy to see something happening.
"For the school's sake, it comes closer to accomplishing what we have been pushing for, which is to improve the safety of our students," GMS Principal Shawn Gobert said. "Whether there's nothing there at all, like we have now, or a stop light or something in between like a stop sign, students are going to cross there as much as we might discourage it."
The Ivy Tech family knows all too well the danger of this intersection, as a student was seriously injured in a June collision with a semi at the intersection.
"Ivy Tech Community College is relieved that INDOT has agreed to address our safety issue. Our first priority as a community is to ensure the safety of our citizens," Ivy Tech Greencastle Executive Director Sharon Bone said. "As we all know, this intersection at Veteran's Highway and Zinc Mill is extremely dangerous. A four-way stop will help address those issues and help ensure the safety of our Ivy Tech students as well as students at Greencastle schools and the citizens of Greencastle."
The one issue many leaders and residents have with this move, though, is the timing. INDOT left just a two-day turnaround between announcing the change to putting it into effect.
In the short term, this leaves even more safety concerns, particularly among local police. Upon hearing of the move, Greencastle Police Department Chief Tom Sutherlin urged GPD officers to increase patrols in the area and use caution as motorists get used to the change.
"As officers become available, we're going to have them patrolling that area as much as we can," Sutherlin said.
He was happy to hear of the abundance of signage, and hopes his department's patrols will aid in making the public aware of the change.
"With us patrolling it and stopping the vehicles who are running stop signs for several days, then hopefully the word gets out," Sutherlin said.
While INDOT has not commented on the timing, Murray speculated the quick change had to do with the approach of the school year.
"The schools thought it was best to have it done at the beginning of the school year, and that's probably part of what pushed it this way," Murray said. "(Greencastle Superintendent) Dr. (Bob) Green and Shawn Gobert, who were at the meeting, thought that if that change was indeed going to be made, that it should be something that people get used to as the school year commences, not something that's a major change."
The other major concern, and one whose consequences will not lessen over time, is the traffic backups a four-way stop could cause, particularly at the beginning and end of school and of shifts at Walmart Distribution and Heartland Automotive.
"I have had a chance to talk to the folks at Walmart Distribution and Heartland, and they're understanding of it. They feel the same way we all did because there are going to be times that it just impedes the flow of traffic and there's nobody at the crossroads," Murray said.
Heartland officials are not commenting to the media until after they've seen some of the effects once the signs are in place. A call to Walmart Distribution was not returned on Wednesday.
The real test of the traffic situation will begin today, with the signs actually installed.
Gobert put everyone's concerns in the best perspective when it comes to safety or convenience.
"I know it's going to be an inconvenience for some people, but an inconvenience compared to some kind of tragedy, those two things don't compare," he said.
"We all know it's a dangerous intersection. It's been proven too many times," she said. "We have to err by being overly cautious, I think."
INDOT reminded motorists to follow the posted work zone speed limit, use caution and consider worker safety when traveling through a construction zone.