For the second summer, commuters have gotten used to seeing orange barrels, closed lanes and construction workers along Interstate 65.
But state officials hope they are noticing fewer serious accidents.
This is the second year commuters are dealing with construction along I-65 in Johnson County, as crews continue work to add a third lane in each direction between Greenwood and Franklin.
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But that could be good news, as drivers have gotten used to driving slower through the area and have added more travel time into their daily commute, Indiana State Police Sgt. John Perrine said.
With fewer people speeding and rushing, that leads to fewer accidents, he said.
Indiana State Police don’t track the number of accidents on specific roadways. But by this time last year, at least three serious accidents injuring multiple people were reported in the construction zones along I-65. So far this season, one accident involving multiple vehicles has been reported, and injuries were minor.
Perrine said he and other state troopers do think they are being called to fewer crashes, he said.
A decrease in accidents could be due to multiple factors, Perrine said.
But a big one is how people drive through the construction zones, he said.
“Even though it’s taken a year, people are finally getting the hang of it, they’re finally getting the importance of slowing down,” he said.
For some, the drive and the construction has become routine, requiring them to add extra time to their commute time. Other motorists are slowing down because of the added officers patrolling, he said. In addition to Indiana State Police troopers out looking for speeders and dangerous drivers, other local police departments are also more routinely sending their officers to patrol the interstate, he said.
“That definitely slows people down,” Perrine said.
In some construction zones, the roadway isn’t quite as narrow as it was in the past, since some work has already been done, he said. That can lead to fewer accidents.
Work on the $84 million widening project began last year, at the same time crews were widening the interstate between Southport Road and Greenwood and repaving the interstate south of Franklin. The repaving and widening project between Greenwood and Southport Road are both finished.
Widening the interstate between Franklin and Greenwood was planned to continue this year, and state officials said they had learned from having three interstate projects going on at once, and wanted to make each section go smoother than the one before it. That means officials and workers routinely meet to discuss any issues, complaints or accidents in the construction areas, and decide what, if anything, should be tweaked.
But this year, at the same time work was being done on I-65, crews began repaving U.S. 31 between Greenwood and Franklin. That work is planned to be finished by July 4, and the same repaving work will be done on State Road 37.
“Folks in Johnson County can’t catch a break,” Perrine said.
Construction on I-65 started a bit later in the year than expected due to problems with the designs for drainage.
Now, crews are mainly working on the median of the interstate, and to rebuild bridges that carry I-65 over Main Street in Greenwood and that carry Hurricane Road over the interstate.
The work is expected to be complete by the beginning of next year, but officials have said they hoped to finish it sooner.