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Area officials, INDOT, scout dangerous intersections

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Two dangerous Clay County intersections were the topic of discussion for several officials. Clay County Commissioners Charlie Brown, Jack Withers and Paul Sinders and Clay County Sheriff Mike Heaton met with Dist. 44 State Representative Nancy Michaels and Indiana Department of Transportation representatives Bill Smith and Scott Burress on Friday. Pictured (from left) are Brown, Burress, Withers, Michaels, Sinders and Smith at the intersection of United States 40 and County Road 200 W. Heaton was unavailable for the picture. Ivy Jackson Photo. [Order this photo]
Although accidents are frequently reported at many intersections throughout Clay County, two have become a great concern for local officials.

On Friday, Clay County Commissioners Charlie Brown, Jack Withers and Paul Sinders and Clay County Sheriff Mike Heaton met with Dist. 44 State Representative Nancy Michaels and Indiana Department of Transportation representatives Bill Smith and Scott Burress.

The group visited intersections at United States 40 and County Road 200 W and CR 700 N and State Road 59, both of which have had several accidents involving serious injury in recent years.

Heaton contacted Michaels' office last fall about the intersection at United States 40 and CR 200 W.

"The number of accidents that happen here are not really all that different than others reported throughout the county," Heaton said. "But here at Waterworks Road (CR 200 W), the angle and the curve of the intersection becomes a visibility problem for drivers trying to turn out on the highway."

While watching the morning traffic, officials agreed that speed was also a potential problem and discussed the option of placing some type of signal in the area.

"You can tell that people have been patiently waiting while driving through Brazil," Michaels said about motorists picking up speed after leaving the city. "By the time they get to here, they're ready to get where they're going."

Recent business development in the area was also discussed.

"We do take into consideration information about new business in the area," Burress said, "which has the potential of changing driving patterns, when making decisions like this."

However, while INDOT is responsible for any changes made to state roads, Smith explained the county commissioners would be responsible for any changes made for county roads.

The intersection at CR 700 N and SR 59 is also of concern to local residents.

"It's great that someone is interested in what's going on here," Sonny Silaski said when the group visited the intersection next to his home. "It's great to be able to talk with them. I hope it will help things here."

Silaski and neighbor Kimberly Wetnight each keep a ready-to-use flashlight, a cordless phone and shoes sitting next to their front doors in case there is an accident in the valley between two hills on SR 59 near the intersection.

Although Wetnight was not home at the time of the visit, she recently spoke with The Brazil Times about her experiences.

"The sound of screeching brakes interrupts the silence and then you just wait for either more silence or the thud of cars hitting each other," she said. "It's devastating to wake up and hear someone screaming for help."

After assessing the area, Michaels said touring the intersections was invaluable.

"You don't understand the situation until you're able to stand here and see it for yourself," she said. "This helps everyone involved become more aware of the problem."

Although in the preliminary stages of information gathering, the INDOT representatives explained that each case is investigated separately using a database of accident reports from both local and state law enforcement agencies. They encouraged the commissioners and the sheriff's department to provide any information they though would be valuable about each intersection.

Smith said it would take a couple of weeks to gather information and investigate each case.

"My office is open to discussion about problems facing communities," Burress said. "Our goal for being here today is to hear the problems from the people who know what's wrong. Our goal is to listen so we can inevitably help."

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Finally, Good job to all those involved. We needed them to see the problem with those two intersections. The one going toward Staunton from 59 is called Death Hill. Waterworks has needed a light for many years. I spoke to the Mayor and the Sheriff about Waterworks, and they both were extremely concerned about that perticular intersection, because of the school children. Think of the possibilities a traffic light could help at Waterworks. Not only could lives be saved, it could cause more business in that area with job growth. Thanks to all those involved, we may see some action in the horizon. GOOD LOOKING OUT!

-- Posted by rooster1 on Wed, Feb 18, 2009, at 10:27 AM

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