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Friday, May 6, 2016

Locals urged to use caution when I-70 is detoured

Friday, June 20, 2003

A convoy of semis rolling through town at rush hour is nothing Brazil hasn't seen before. When I-70 closes down and traffic is rerouted, every motorist in the area has to be on his or her toes.

Monday, Tuesday and again on Thursday, problems on the interstate persisted and were felt throughout the city's streets.

"Local residents need to be more alert when I-70 traffic is running through town," Brazil Police Chief Terry Harrison said Wednesday, the day after a Putnam County section of the highway was shut down for several hours when three semis collided in a construction zone.

Thursday, an accident involving two semis and two cars at the 35-mile marker was lucky for those involved because it resulted in only one minor injury and no fatalities. Another incident at around 2:30 p.m. slowed traffic on a four-four mile on the stretch of the highway resulting in one injury.

Unfortunately, that was not the case earlier in the week when one man, Gary Ramsey, 32, of Oklahoma, was Life-lined by helicopter to Methodist Hospital in Indianapolis Tuesday. Matthew Unruh, of South Carolina, was killed on impact. He was 36. On Monday, another accident involving a dump truck and a 1995 GNC Sierra resulted in the deaths of Ronald Michel, 52, and Todd Michel, 20, both of Plymouth, Ind.

A repaving project at the 34-mile marker on I-70 near US 231 has traffic reduced to one-lane. When an accident occurs, it's a tedious process to reroute the traffic, said Indiana State Police public information officer Rich Myers.

"It's basically driver inattention causing many of the problems," Myers said. In the case involvng the three semis Tuesday, he said the third truck was going 65 mph and didn't slow as the others stopped. "Obviously, drivers need to slow down coming into a construction zone."

When accidents on the highway push detoured traffic through Brazil, everyone is affected. County, city, state police officers and search and Rescue personnel are called to direct traffic. About 12 extra men worked the traffic jam Tuesday.

"It's been happening a lot here in the last three months because of the construction and accidents," Harrison said. "We catch it from both ends." He explained that the traffic from SR 46, SR 59 and U.S. 40 are all affected by the congestion. He advises that local traffic try to use the back roads whenever possible when traffic problems occur.

"The only safe alternative we have is to send traffic through Brazil," Myers said, adding that federal inspections on trucks have to be completed before the trucks can be moved off the roadway. The emergency rescue of the vehicle occupants also takes time.

The stretch of I-70 was shut down from 2:30 p.m. until 11:15 p.m. Tuesday.

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