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Semi traffic unsettles Rocklane Road residents

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Longtime residents of Rocklane Road are seeing more trucks zip by every day, and they don’t like it.

Melvin Lawson and Gloria Seniour are neighbors on this stretch of road, located about 8 miles east of downtown Greenwood. They have seen large trucks on their road before, but both say the frequency and number of trucks has increased in recent weeks.

Part of the issue is population growth, which has brought more traffic to Johnson County and around Indianapolis. But another is the closure of Worthsville Road while Greenwood adds lanes and prepares for a new Interstate 65 interchange to be built.

Semis are allowed to use county roads, even if officials prefer they use other routes, Johnson County Highway Director Luke Mastin said.

“We’ve seen growth over the years due to our proximity to Indianapolis and will continue to do so,” Mastin said. “That means more trucks, more heavy loads compared to what we’ve seen in the past. It’s ideal if those vehicles use state roads, but the reality is state roads don’t take you everywhere.”

Traffic on Rocklane Road could decrease when construction on a new I-65 interchange and on Worthsville Road is complete, because that road will be wider, he said.

Worthsville Road between U.S. 31 and I-65 was closed in February of this year for a project to widen it to four lanes. A new interchange for I-65 is scheduled to open next year. When construction began, that removed an option for truckers looking for a shortcut between interstates 74 and 65, said Lawson, who is retired after more than 50 years as a truck driver. Drivers will talk on citizens band radio and learn of the more direct Rocklane Road route from the Fairland Road exit of I-74 north of Shelbyville and the I-65 Main Street exit in Greenwood, Lawson said.

“One will tell the other one about this road and how they can just shoot right over,” he said.

“I’ve been over the road with semis for 56 years and I would never go down a road like this because it is just not safe for you or the people you drive by.”

Safety is also a concern to Seniour, who has lived next door to Lawson for 20 years. She worries about how fast the trucks are traveling, especially when the speed limit is between 30 and 40 mph. Resident Ed Thomas said some of the vehicles are going as fast as 70 mph.

“They just fly by here,” Seniour said. “There are kids out here and tractors on the road. It’s not a major highway or something like that. It’s a county road.”

Since she moved to her home along the road, just east of I-65, in 1999, Carolin Peterson has noticed that traffic has increased along with the city’s growth. But she and Rocklane Christian Church Pastor Rob Keaton also have seen officers in the area often, patrolling for speeders.

Judy Hamilton has noticed more trucks — more than she has seen in the 24 years she has lived along the road. But she isn’t concerned.

“I don’t see a safety issue and they have the right to be on the road the same as any other driver,” she said.

Lawson has raised concerns about cracks along the center of the road as well as significant shoulder damage near his home and to the west and east along Rocklane Road, also known as County Road 950N. He worries the trucks are damaging the roads.

But Mastin said the extra traffic is not damaging the roads more than typical wear and tear. Plans to repave areas of Rocklane Road this fall are regularly scheduled maintenance and not due to any increase in truck traffic, Mastin said.

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