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Indiana officials looking for solution to intersection near truck stop

Trucks turn into the Love's Travel Stops and Country Stores location near Richmond, Ind. (Associated Press)

The Associated Press

8/19/2013

RICHMOND, Ind.  — A series of fatal accidents and close calls has prompted Wayne County officials to ask lawmakers and state transportation leaders to help find a solution for an intersection near an eastern Indiana truck stop.

A 25-year-old Economy man died in July after he lost control of his vehicle and spun across the median, where he struck a northbound semitrailer.

Witnesses told authorities the semi pulled in front of the vehicle driven by Derek Ramsey, who then passed the truck before swerving back in front of the semi, over-correcting and losing control of his vehicle.

A Williamsburg man died in January 2011 when his pickup was crushed between two semis in the same area.

Wayne County Sheriff Jeff Cappa tells the Palladium-Item (http://pinews.co/1cIflgs ) the root of the problem in both cases appears to be slow-moving semis turning in front of vehicles on the busy highway near the interchange with Interstate 70.

Residents urged officials to install a traffic signal at the intersection after the 2011 accident that killed Mike Robbins of Williamsburg. They said they hoped that would eliminate some of the danger associated with semis entering or crossing traffic at the truck stop's entrance.

The truck stop would have to pay to install a light and maintain it, INDOT officials said.

"The state typically does not install traffic signals at private entrances. This is the responsibility of the property owner," INDOT said in response to emailed questions from the Palladium-Item.

INDOT sent investigators to the area in 2011 and again in 2012 to compile information about the location. The 2011 investigation resulted in a reduced speed limit on U.S. 35 between the I-70 interchange and Indiana 38. The 2012 probe led to the installation of a truck-crossing warning sign for southbound traffic before the entrance to the truck stop.

The city also installed a stop sign at the truck stop's exit after the 2011 crash to remind truck drivers to stop before entering the roadway.

"We usually don't go onto private property, but in that case, they didn't have anything there and we felt it was necessary to do," Richmond Mayor Sally Hutton said.

Police have stepped up patrols in the area and have routinely ticketed drivers who fail to obey traffic laws, including semi drivers who pull out in front of faster-moving vehicles on U.S. 35.

Wayne County Sheriff Jeff Cappa is working with state lawmakers to set up a meeting with INDOT to discuss the situation.

State Rep. Tom Saunders, R-Lewisville, called the intersection "a really bad design."

"Trucks just pull out, and they are bigger and they just think the car will slow down," he said.

The Trucker staff can be reached to comment on this article at editor@thetrucker.com.

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