Lawmakers to discuss INDOT plans

By Joseph Slacian

State Sen. Andy Zay and State Rep. Dave Wolkins will host a town hall meeting Saturday, Nov. 23, to discuss the Indiana Department of Transportation’s plans for the intersection of U.S. 24 and County Road 300 E.

The meeting will be from 8 to 9 a.m. at the Honeywell Center’s Honeywell Room, 275 W. Market St.

In March, INDOT hosted a public forum to discuss its plans to essentially close the intersection and put crossovers further down the road in both the eastbound and westbound lanes of traffic.

Under INDOT’s proposal, the existing intersection will be removed and a median U-turn would be installed. Under the plan, drivers approaching U.S. 24 from the south and wanting to turn west onto the highway would be forced to travel east a short distance and then make a U-turn through the median to head west. The same holds true for those approaching U.S. 24 from the north and wanting to travel east on the highway. Those traveling east on U.S. 24 and wanting to turn north on the county road would have to do the same, as would those traveling west on 24 and wanting to turn south on CR 300 E.

In September, INDOT officials informed the Lagro Town Board in a letter that it “will advance this project to the next phast of development with construction anticipated to take place in 2020.”

Changes at the intersection are needed, INDOT contends, to help improve safety at the site. Over the last five years, they noted, there has been 15 accidents at the site, including four injuries. There was one fatal crash at the intersection in 2009.

The decision to move forward comes about even though all of those who spoke at the March were against the plan.

Lagro firefighters are concerned that the change will increase the time it takes to respond to fires on the north side of U.S. 24.

There also were concerns that semi-tractor and trailers needing to go north or south on CR 300 E would have trouble negotiating the U-turns, and could create more danger in doing so than the intersection now has.

About 10 days after the INDOT hearing, Zay and Wolkins met with the public during a town hall meeting at the Lagro Community Building.

During that meeting, the two lawmakers encouraged the public to contact INDOT with their concerns about the change.

“When you have a whole room speaking in opposition, as a representative … it’s clear that the people have spoken,” Zay said after the meeting.

Wolkins said of the public input, “It’s huge. I think it will have a big impact.”

Many of those at the meeting told lawmakers that they believe it’s inattentiveness by drivers that caused the accidents, and that more needs to be done to warn drivers of the upcoming intersection.


Posted on 2019 Nov 19