Bricks line the end of a Whiteland woman’s driveway, blocking cars from pulling in to turn around.
Donna Plummer decided to put up her own barricade after watching motorists repeatedly ignore the bright orange “road closed” signs along Whiteland Road for nearly a month.
One after another, cars, trucks and even semis head west on Whiteland Road, cutting between barricades and ignoring multiple signs. In the span of two hours one day, Plummer saw 132 cars turn around when they saw that the intersection of Whiteland and Graham roads was really, actually closed.
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Often, it was Plummer’s driveway motorists were turning around in, which began to cause the blacktop to deteriorate, especially when heavier vehicles, such as trucks, pulled in, Plummer said.
“It’s bad. It’s every day,” Plummer said. “I don’t know why people don’t look at the signs. They drive down to my house and stop, then ask me for directions if I’m outside in my yard. I tell them directions, but inside, I get mad — why did you come through the first signs?”
About a month ago, the town of Whiteland closed the intersection of Whiteland and Graham roads while a roundabout is being built to replace the four-way stop that often backed up traffic for miles.
Work is on schedule, but the intersection will remain closed for another month.
The detour around the project has increased traffic on rural, county roads, such as on Whiteland and Hurricane roads, east of the interstate. The detour for semis is to continue along I-65 to the Franklin exit, but not all are doing that, and that is causing more wear and tear to the rural roads, county highway department director Luke Mastin said. County officials are closely watching the condition of those roads, he said.
And others are ignoring the detour and signs all together, continuing west on Whiteland Road from the interstate and then being met with an impassable intersection at Graham Road. The intersection is set to reopen June 11, and work will continue around the intersection through August, town officials said.
For residents who live on the nearly one-mile stretch of Whiteland Road, between I-65 and Graham Road, that means more motorists turning around in their driveways and cutting across their fields.
That also means police officers will be stationed at the barricades, looking for anyone who ignores all those road closed signs and tries to get through anyway.
Plummer’s daughter-in-law, Dottie Plummer, lives about five houses down from her along Whiteland Road, closer to I-65. Dottie and her husband have watched motorists ignore the signs and speed down Whiteland Road as if the barricades aren’t there, Dottie Plummer said. Watching other drivers has been both frustrating and amusing, she said.
Dottie Plummer has had to take her daughter to the Flying J truck stop to be picked up by the school bus because the driver obeys the signs and won’t come down Whiteland Road, she said.
But trucks and sport-utility vehicles have cut through farmland across Whiteland Road from her home, and semis have used that land to turn around. Other semis have passed the first barricades and driven all the way down the road, only to stop and have to back up to get turned around and go the other way, Dottie Plummer said.
Town officials have gotten calls about the issue, and have taken steps to address it, Whiteland Town Manager Norm Gabehart said.
The town added more signs about the road being closed and also has sent an officer to routinely patrol the area, he said.
“We’ve received a lot of calls about cars driving around barricades, through yards and we started getting those calls as soon as the project started,” Gabehart said. “I don’t think it’s a good situation, but I’m not surprised. I empathize totally with the residents, but what do you do?”
Tim Mulinaro’s heating and cooling business is on Whiteland Road, and in the past month he’s called the police department multiple times. The problem is only getting worse, Mulinaro said.
“Cars disregard that sign — where do they think they’re going to go?” Mulinaro said. “It’s like they think, ‘I’m going to make it.’ It was funny at first; now it’s just a pain.”
When the roundabout work ends, Whiteland Road will be much less of a pain, Gabehart said.
“The best thing about the roundabout project is it’s only 60 days,” Gabehart said. “When it’s done it will create some relief.”
Here is a look at the project along Whiteland Road:
April to June: Construction of the new roundabout at Graham and Whiteland roads. Indiana Department of Transportation crews are also doing work on the bridge over Interstate 65.
June 11: The intersection is expected to re-open. The project is on schedule
August: Work won’t be finished until August.
Fall: After the roundabout opens, minor work, such as landscaping, will be completed through the fall.
Work on Interstate 65 continues this summer:
Widening: Crews are adding another lane in each direction of I-65 between Greenwood and Franklin.
Bridge work: Crews are also rebuilding the I-65 bridge over Main Street in Greenwood, which includes widening the bridge as well as rebuilding the foundation.
Completion: Both segments of work on I-65 are expected to be completed this year.