Indiana Department of Transportation crews began installing a temporary signal at the intersection of U.S. 52 and State Road 47 near Thorntown on Thursday.
The intersection is along the detour route established by INDOT after a 37-mile stretch of I-65 northbound – from Lebanon to Lafayette – had to be closed because of a sinking bridge pier. The increased traffic volume on the highway has caused backups and raised concerns about safety.
On Tuesday, after a Lebanon woman was killed in a crash near the intersection, Boone County Sheriff Mike Nielsen took to Facebook to vent his frustration and urge INDOT to take action.
“Until you have to do a death notification to a husband at his office, and then to a teenage daughter at school with her friends; one can never imagine the heartache that it brings to everyone involved, including seasoned officers,” Nielsen wrote. “I don’t want to repeat this day again anytime soon. I have done this too many times in the past 30 years and I don’t want to do it again because of state bureaucracy.”
The social media post went viral with nearly 6,100 likes and more than 3,400 shares.
INDOT said analysis shows a traffic signal would not have prevented Tuesday's fatal crash. But it decided to replace the flashers currently in place at the intersection with a temporary traffic signal.
“INDOT is committed to bringing every available resource to bear with regard to this situation, and in an effort to ensure safety, we’ll continue to coordinate with local officials, law enforcement and our field experts to monitor the detour and make sure it is as safe as possible for Hoosier motorists,” INDOT Commissioner Brandye Hendrickson said.
In addition to the signal, INDOT is installing warning signs and additional rumble strips to provide advance warning about the new light.
Officials say they will continue to monitor crashes and traffic flow for further adjustments along the detour, which is expected to be in place through September.
“We are tremendously appreciative of the assistance from law enforcement, and the patience and understanding of the motoring public,” Hendrickson said. “We are working diligently to safely reopen I-65 northbound as quickly as possible.”