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Wednesday, Nov. 25, 2015

Navigating Greencastle not the time to keep on trucking

Friday, January 25, 2013

A rig from Smith Implements, a hauling John Deere planter and attachments, makes its way south through Greencastle on U.S. 231 Wednesday. Along the way, the driver encounters the worst navigational issues the city has to offer, including the so-called mousehole at the north edge of town.
About the time Ronald Reagan was settling into the White House and scaring the bejesus out of the Iran hostage holders, Greencastle was in the midst of a grant-funded transportation study, the "surprise" findings of which recommended getting the truck traffic out of the downtown.

As those predictable findings were being shared with a generally disagreeable public, a grizzled old truck driver who had made his living running big rigs from coast to coast, stood before the City Council and opened local eyes in what was then a smoke-filled room above the fire station.

"That section of 231 through here (Greencastle)," he asserted to a room so quiet you could have heard cigarette ash drop, "is the biggest bottleneck from Chicago to Florida."

Now that analysis might have been exaggerating just a bit (have you ever driven through Atlanta?). Nonetheless it pointed out what truck drivers have long thought of encountering the obstacles Greencastle presents to daily traffic.

Take Wednesday morning. Truck driver Tim Volk of Greensburg, hauling for Smith Implements -- which has John Deere dealerships in Bloomington, Franklin, Greenfield, Rushville, Richmond and its headquarters in Greensburg -- was forced to navigate an extra-wide load southbound through the various major hurdles to traffic flow in downtown Greencastle.

Approaching the infamous "mousehole," or the railroad underpass at the north end of town on U.S. 231, he wisely slowed and pulled to the right shoulder. Stopping in front of The Fairway restaurant, Volk let the line of traffic backing up behind him leapfrog ahead.

That was more courtesy than necessity as the oversize load didn't affect anything in front or behind him as he traversed the mousehole, an underpass so narrow two of today's enormous pickup trucks can barely squeeze past each other without tearing their mirrors off.

But the Smith Implement truck cleared that hurdle and continued south on U.S. 231, dominating the width of the two-lane highway as he passed the police station, Putnam Inn, Neal Tire, Progressive Printing and the Banner Graphic to reach obstacle No. 2, the 90-degree left turn from Jackson to Washington street on the south side of the square.

Along the way, the driver encounters the worst navigational issues the city has to offer, including the 90-degree left turn on the courthouse square, the narrow stretch of Washington Street between Indiana and Vine streets.
The traffic gods must have been smiling on the John Deere rig as not a single northbound vehicle cluttered the intersection or sat in the turn lane to go south on Jackson at that moment.

Normally, an excruciatingly tight turn, it was a piece of cake this time as the big rig turned left, rolled into the crosswalk and hovered over the Stellar Grant work ongoing at the Convention and Visitor Bureau office.

Getting a green light as fortuitous as those yellow cautions seem to be at the end of every NASCAR race, our intrepid trucker crept eastward, past Starbucks and several wide-eyed, coffee cup-clutching pedestrians. Needing both of the two narrow lanes in front of Wilson's Photo to keep from scraping the paint off any cars parked legally but dangerously along both sides of Washington Street, he pressed onward without incident.

Once beyond Vine Street, Volk had a clear run to the stoplight at Bloomington Street, coming to halt in stopped traffic there, only to have a purple-cabbed Kenworth snake past closely on the left after taking the left turn at the light to come northbound.

With only a minivan to contend with in the opposite lane, the big rig swung wide in the intersection and made its way south onto Bloomington Street without even coming close to taking out the traffic signal pole or overhead support as has been done so often in the past.

From there, it's uncertain what route he next took. Possibly he was bound for eastbound Interstate 70 (depending on any oversize load restrictions) or State Road 46 east from Spencer to Bloomington and all the way to Greensburg and the home of Smith Implement headquarters.

You couldn't hear him exclaim anything seasonal or otherwise as he drove out of sight, but if he had, it was probably a huge sigh of relief for making it safely through "the biggest bottleneck" around.

Along the way, the driver encounters the worst navigational issues the city has to offer, including the second 90-degree turn south onto Bloomington Street.
Now, don't you feel glad you drive a car or a pickup?

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I've only been a Greencastle-area resident for about 7 years, but I've always thought, from day one, that trucks going through downtown was a horrible idea. I don't know what the fix is, but the tight turns the trucks have to make on that route is insane.

-- Posted by Lindy62 on Fri, Jan 25, 2013, at 6:55 AM

I thought that was the reason for the Veteran's Highway....to bypass downtown??

-- Posted by 3cutekids on Fri, Jan 25, 2013, at 8:22 AM

I am offended by the use of the word "bejesus". What's next? Freakin'?

-- Posted by My Dime on Fri, Jan 25, 2013, at 8:54 AM

Sure vet hwy bypasses downtown east to south but nothing bypasses downtown north to south

-- Posted by Chickiebev on Fri, Jan 25, 2013, at 9:02 AM

Why can't they make the trucks go on straight down Jackson to Veteran's Highway and by-pass the square?

-- Posted by chicki1112 on Fri, Jan 25, 2013, at 9:19 AM

As I read the article, I thought to myself, "Somebody's going get all bent backwards over 'bejesus.'"

So looked...not surprised.

Freakin' people.

-- Posted by thingsfallapart on Fri, Jan 25, 2013, at 9:55 AM

I have been told by a former State Highway Worker that the corner of Vine & Washington St. intersection is one of the worst to plow in the State. I believe it makes the top 5. Especially when someone parks an oversize vehicle 2 Ft. from the curb.

-- Posted by wilsonphoto on Fri, Jan 25, 2013, at 11:02 AM

Thingsfallapart- That was funny lol. My Dime- Really? Are you trapped in your house all day offended by the world? Quit taking everything so seriously. As for the article itself- Big trucks have been a major problem going through the downtown since I can remember. They really should take Jackson down to Veterans Hwy.

-- Posted by ritomase on Fri, Jan 25, 2013, at 11:34 AM

the state dosent issue oversize permits on roads that belong to the city like south jackson and veterans memorial hwy.

-- Posted by Rikiamanda on Fri, Jan 25, 2013, at 7:22 PM

They could route 231 around Greencastle like they have done West Lafayette and Purdue.

-- Posted by tacticalcoxn on Fri, Jan 25, 2013, at 8:32 PM

tacticalcoxn: Sure "they" could. Do you have an extra $100 million laying around?

-- Posted by Ben Dover on Sat, Jan 26, 2013, at 11:02 AM

That is a corn planter.

-- Posted by fordicew on Mon, Jan 28, 2013, at 7:16 PM


Actually, the state of Indiana found $300 just "laying around" in 2011.

A true US231 bypass would've been an excellent way to invest some of that money in state infrastructure.

-- Posted by FluffBunny on Wed, Jan 30, 2013, at 10:01 AM

$300M that is.

-- Posted by FluffBunny on Wed, Jan 30, 2013, at 10:01 AM

I think the Banner Graphic should give jobs to both "thingsfallapart" and "ritomase" .. hilarious because it's TRUE!

Really? "Bejesus" is offensive? Then so is your WWJD bumper sticker. Shut up.

-- Posted by Emmes on Thu, Jan 31, 2013, at 11:25 AM

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