October 26, 2013

Sheriff, INDOT: Patience in growing pains

Area drivers express concern over Burlington Avenue.

By Amie Sites Pharos-Tribune

---- — Snarled traffic. Confusing intersections. Car crashes.

To frequent drivers of Burlington Avenue near the new Hoosier Heartland Highway interchange, the highway’s opening hasn’t all been rosy.

Some concerns stem from the amount of traffic caused when factories get out.

“By Tyson it is a mess…with two factories and all the traffic, it takes about 30 minutes to get to the highway from work,” Elena Doke posted to the Pharos-Tribune’s Facebook page last week.

Michael Franklin, who works at Essroc, agreed it was difficult getting to work.

Another of the 40 comments left in response to a Pharos-Tribune Facebook post added to the litany of complaints.

“It is also bad by Tennerman…they both need stop lights,” Brandi Claiborne Jones said. “I have been saying for weeks that it’s an accident waiting to happen.”

After a car crash on Tuesday, one of two crashes that have occurred since the road opened, readers sounded off about the new interchange. One of the car accidents resulted in personal injury.

Because of the concerns, Indiana Department of Transportation engineers will be sent out to asses the area, said Matt Deitchley, media relations director at INDOT.

“With big projects, there are things that can fall through the cracks,” Dietchley said.

Cass County Sheriff Randy Pryor is urging patience.

“Anytime a new road opens up and there are new avenues, we’re going to have some growing pains,” Pryor said. “People are slowly getting used to the area. With one long ramp, covering Burlington Avenue and U.S. 35, it’s going to take some time.”

Deitchley is also urging patience.

“There is always some confusion when a new area opens up,” Deitchley said.

Pryor asked that people obey stop signs and watch for ongoing constructions. He noted the department is patrolling the area, watching for violations. In one of the car crashes the driver was cited for failure to yield, Pryor said.

Many comments said a stop light might help.

“I work at Tyson and this road is a mess,” Haley Downs said. “There needs to be a stop light. Not just a stop sign where the highways go together now.”

Bradford Moulton agreed, saying he thinks the area needs a traffic light or street lights.

Others said the signage is confusing.

Pryor noted it is confusing currently since number markers aren’t on the ramp yet. He said he had all his officers drive the area and become familiar with it.

“Having numbers helps us identify the crash site and if motoring public have an incident it’s always helpful if they know where they are,” Pryor said.

Pryor advised drivers to follow signage, stop at stop signs and take safety precaution when driving.

“It’s a high-speed highway and motors tend to exceed the speed limit,” Pryor said. “Be patient, slow down and use caution.”

However, Logansport commuters doubt it’s that easy.

Dawn Fisher said she drove the exit area in the daytime and at night and found it to be confusing and poorly marked.

April Coplen agreed, saying coming back from Lafayette there is no signage for Logansport until you get off the exit.

Deitchley noted that although the road is open to traffic, the work is not complete. Signage is still being put up, he said.

Amie Sites is a staff reporter at the Pharos-Tribune. She can be reached at 574-732-5117 or Follow her: @PharosAES.