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Neighbors say I-69 construction zone causes daily dangers

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- A group of neighbors say one of Indiana's most anticipated road projects is one of its most frustrating, and it's causing daily danger for them.

Simply going home has turned into a treacherous task for Keith Kinder, Andrew Long, and their neighbors.

"I decided I was going to contact someone to get something done," Long said.

The men say the turn in from State Road 37 onto East Winery Road, just north of Bloomington, has become a hazard. Not only do they turn there to get home, but it's also the entrance for popular Oliver Winery.

"I probably have incidents here twice, three times a week," Long said.

CBS4 Problem Solvers went out to see what's going on for ourselves.

I-69 is now open to the south from Evansville to Bloomington. Once it ends, you enter a full blown construction zone along State Road 37. The speed limit drops to 45 miles per hour and it's slow-going for nearly 15 miles.

Just past the city, the speed limit goes up to 60 miles per hour, so neighbors say many drivers are gunning it to get back up to speed. As you come around the bend just a mile and a half later, you come up on East Winery Road. There is no right turn lane.

The Problem Solvers took the turn a few times. Each time, drivers flew past as we slowed down in the shoulder. Most drivers didn't brake much at all.

Using a speed gun, we also checked drivers' speeds. Most were easily hitting close to 60 miles an hour by the time they reached the turn in, and some went over that.

Kinder said a lot of the time, he'll see someone tailgating him, and bail out.

"If I feel like I’m getting close, (dangerously) close, I continue to go north. I don’t pull in," Kinder said.

CBS4 Problem Solvers reached out to the agencies in charge of the construction area. An INDOT spokesperson forwarded the statement below from I-69 Development Partners, which controls traffic flow. The group also said in an email that the area surrounding the neighborhood and Oliver Winery is not an active construction zone.

"I-69 Development Partners is responsible for maintaining traffic flow in the 21-mile project construction zone. We work daily to ensure that active construction zones within the project are engineered for the safety of motorists and our workers. We also monitor those areas that are within the project but not active construction zones to keep traffic moving safely and efficiently.

Construction zones do not inherently mean a reduction in speed. Speed limits will be reduced and flashing signage will be operational when workers are present.

I-69 Development Partners works closely with state and local law enforcement and we have increased our efforts to keep speeds down through enhanced enforcement efforts. In addition to fixed and electronic signage asking motorists to be aware and slow down, our messaging in traditional and social media contains daily reminders to be alert, leave plenty of room between vehicles and follow posted speed limits in the construction zone."

That's not enough for Long, though, who said there are often orange cones blocking the shoulder that make it even more dangerous to turn, and the speed limit goes back down to 45 miles per hour not long after the turn in.

"I would like to see a 45 zone all along here, until it’s all finished," Long said. "I don’t want to see my neighbors or my family being injured or killed here at this intersection."

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