COLUMBIA CITY, Ind. (WPTA21)- INDOT officials say, drivers are three times more likely to get in a bad crash at the intersection of U.S. 30 and county road 500 in Whitley County, than they are at a similar intersection along a different road.
Media Relations Director for INDOT, Nichole Thomas said they plan to put a median u-turn in that intersection, to make it safer for drivers.
“So what the drivers would do would be pull directly out from the county road into a dedicated median U-turn lane, where they are protected and separated from that U.S. 30 traffic.” Thomas said.
Thomas said drivers will wait for a gap in traffic and make the U-turn in the dedicated lane onto U.S. 30, or get to the right lane onto county road 500. The plan was presented to Columbia City residents Tuesday night for feedback.
“We want every single driver to go home safely every night.” Thomas said.
Some residents said they don’t think the plan will help. Aaron Oliver, the Fire Chief of the Union Township Fire Department in Columbia City says you have to come across the intersection to get to the station. He said the change will affect his team directly.
“So with the vehicles that we have, the apparatuses that we have negotiating the highway will be more of a challenge than it is already, and we already run with two people in a truck so you do have that passenger looking beside you, but just merging into traffic and crossing the general highway, there needs to be a lot more awareness with the general public.” Oliver said.
Another local, Dr. Ron Conley a veterinarian whose hospital is close to the the intersection. He said when animals are being transported to the hospital, the vehicles can not reach the best speed for a safe U-turn with the animals inside, and it would hurt his business.
“Those horse trailers have to accelerate very slowly and stop very slowly, those floors are awful slippery and the horses can slip and fall so that causes a traffic pattern a lot different than usual driving.” Conley said.
In the end, Oliver said better lighting and better driving by everyone, is best.
“Go back to the basics, defensive driving being courteous to your fellow drivers, don’t rush up on ’em, give ’em some room, just be the bigger person.” Oliver said.
INDOT officials said they will take more public comment on the issue in the future.