NEW HAVEN, Ind. (WPTA21) - A long-awaited improvement at U.S. 24 and Interstate 469 near New Haven is now finished and open to cars and trucks.
The upgrade is being counted on to cut down on congestion and a very real travel hazard.
Vehicles heading north on I-469 turning off to go east on U.S. 24 towards Toledo for years have had to loop around and confront a stoplight at the bottom of the ramp, hoping to get a green light to help traffic keep moving.
Around noon-time Friday, a new option opened, swinging eastbound traffic off the interstate on a more direct path to 24.
Now when you come to U.S. 24, there's no traffic signal to deal with, you just merge and go.
"That's awesome, it's a long time overdue," said Jim Bickel, who uses the interchange on a regular basis.
"It will ease up this traffic area that's jammed right here because it's so hard for the trucks to get up and around the corner fast enough," Bickel said.
Marcia Heymann is also thrilled with the change.
In the near future, the traffic light on 24 will be taken out, improving traffic flow going in all directions on 24.
"It'll be really nice not to have these poor semi-drivers trying to get onto 469 and be backed up to Bruick Road," Heymann said.
With the old exit ramp in play, at times, cars and trucks stacked up all the way back onto 469.
In August of 2018, that kind of scenario played a role in a fiery crash involving five vehicles.
A semi rear ended a car, sandwiching it between two big rigs.
Two Ohio men in the car died.
State Representative Dave Heine, who crusaded for upgrades at this interchange, wanted to reduce the risks that come along with stopped traffic and highway congestion.
"So, that's gone now, but number two, economic development for the City of New Haven, eastern Allen County, it'll really benefit us greatly," Heine said.
Two other new loop ramps on and off 469 at 24 are being built, with hopes they'll be opened to the public mid to late 2020.