Editorial: Give INDOT credit for getting it right

Thursday, September 14, 2017
Situated well to the left of the intersection, a new traffic signal was installed recently at U.S. 231 and U.S. 36 so that northbound motorists exiting a curve just south of the intersection will be aware of the signal well in advance.
Banner Graphic/NICK WILSON

The Indiana Department of Transportation often finds itself as a lightning rod for criticism.

Want a go-to way to make fun of too little work getting done by too many workers? Compare them to the State Highway Dept.

Mad about how road or bridge construction is being handled? Blame INDOT.

Think the city is long overdue for a highway bypass? Think a certain intersection needs a flashing red? Think that there’s no good way to get to ...

Well, you get the idea.

Here in the Banner Graphic newsroom, we’ve been no different. When, in March 2016, it seemed there was no good way to get from Greencastle to Hendricks County, we wrote about it, even prompting a response from State Rep. Jim Baird.

We’ve also been outspoken, like the rest of the city, in our befuddlement over the highly confusing four-way stop at SR 240 and Zinc Mill Road.

Plans are now in the works for INDOT to right that wrong, and it’s not the only good work the state is doing in Greencastle and Putnam County.

Recently, drivers noticed an additional signal at the intersection. While a new light isn’t anything notable in and of itself, the new light’s placement — well to the left of the actual intersection — is curious.

However, anyone who drives that stretch of road often can tell you the problem it solves. If you come out of the curve approaching the intersection too fast, there’s barely time to adjust to what color of light you find.

“The additional signal head for northbound traffic on U.S. 231 approaching U.S. 36 is indeed to make the signal indication visible to drivers sooner as they come around the curve,” INDOT spokesman Debbie Calder said.

Calder added that the signal head is likely to move, as studies have shown a way to make the intersection even safer.

“It will actually be relocated to the near span rather than the far span so that it is at an even better location,” Calder said. “The ultimate goal of the supplemental signal head is to improve safety by forewarning motorists of yellow (or red) lights as they come around the curve, thus reducing the probability of rear-end crashes.”

This hasn’t been the only sign of progress for local driver safety, as new “flashing yellow arrow” signals have popped up at three locations in Greencastle, with two more to be added at other Putnam County locations. (More on this development in an upcoming Banner Graphic.)

So before making another crack about the State Highway Dept., remember how these same folks are actually looking out for our safety and cut them some slack.