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.
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.