04/04/1 With over $1.5 billion in new Indiana highway projects beginning work, 2011 is shaping up to be Indiana’s largest road construction season on record, surpassing previous years. As part of Work Zone Safety Awareness Week this April 4 through 8, the Indiana Department of Transportation (INDOT) is helping educate motorists about five of the largest road construction projects that will impact local traffic this year.
- 1. U.S. 31: Construction carries over from last year to build the bridges and lanes for the new U.S. 31 project in St. Joseph and Marshall counties. This summer there will be six active projects in the area. Drivers will notice increased traffic from trucks and construction vehicles south Roosevelt Road. Traffic will also be restricted to one lane this spring and summer while a bridge is constructed in that area.
- 2. State Road 53 (Broadway): Construction will begin this month at five intersections between 93rd Avenue and U.S. 231 in Crown Point. The intersections are being widened with additional turn lanes. No closures are planned, but there will be lane restrictions at the intersections during the construction.
- 3. State Road 49: Construction will continue this year on the bridges over U.S. 20 and U.S. 12. The bridge at U.S. 12 is currently closed to traffic while the bridge is being reconstructed. Both bridges will be open to traffic by June, although traffic will be restricted to one lane in each direction during the summer.
- 4. State Road 25 (Hoosier Heartland): Construction carries over from last year on the project to build the bridges and lanes for the new Hoosier Heartland highway project in Cass and Carroll counties. This summer there will be three active projects in the area. A majority of the work this summer will take place between Delphi and Logansport.
- 5. State Road 23: Construction will begin this month on the project to add travel lanes on State Road 23 between Brick and Adams roads in St. Joseph County. This is the third of three projects along the S.R. 23 corridor. Drivers may encounter occasional delays in the area during the construction.
On average four out of every five people killed in highway work zones are drivers or passengers, not highway workers, so INDOT is joining with traffic safety personnel nationwide to stress “Safer Driving. Safer Work Zones. For Everyone.” According to the ARIES electronic crash records system, 12 people were killed and 602 people were injured in work zone crashes during 2010.
Steeper fines and penalties await drivers who speed or drive recklessly through a work zone. Under Indiana law, drivers can be fined up to $1,000 for speeding in a work zone. Motorists who drive recklessly or aggressively through a work zone could face fines up to $5,000. Drivers who injure or kill a highway worker may find themselves paying a $10,000 fine or serving up to eight years behind bars. Fines paid are used to fund additional work zone patrols.
To avoid becoming a statistic, INDOT urges drivers to follow the safety tips listed below while driving through work zones. Additional information can be found at INDOT’s work zone safety Web site, www.WorkZoneSafety.IN.gov.
- Stay alert! Look for reduced speed limits, narrow driving lanes and highway workers.
- Pay attention. Work zone signs will tell you exactly what to expect ahead.
- Merge early. If drivers merge as soon as they see the signs, traffic will flow more smoothly.
- Slow down. If you’re speeding, you may encounter slowed or stopped traffic within seconds.
- Space out. Maintain a safe distance on all sides of your vehicle.
- Minimize distractions. The three C’s – cell phones, CDs and coffee – are the primary causes of driver inattention.
- Plan ahead. Expect delays and allow extra travel time. Select an alternate route if you are running late.