State grant money paying for extra patrols along I-65 detour

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BOONE COUNTY, Ind. (Aug. 31, 2015)-- The I-65 northbound bridge closure in Tippecanoe County is putting a lot of traffic on detour routes through Boone County. And now the Boone County Sheriff’s Department is using grant money to pay for extra patrols.

County roads now carriers of heavy traffic, the added cars are a concern for Boone County Sheriff Mike Nielsen.

“Some action needed to be taken,” he said.

His department got the green light to use approximately $17,000 in grant money from the state to pay for law enforcement from multiple agencies, like Zionsville and Lebanon, to patrol I-65 detour areas.

“This is not part of their 40-hour work week. This really is an extra shift, and the overtime is paid through this grant,” he said, “We’ll fill it as much as we can fill it. If we can put four officers on a shift to do nothing but focus on that patrol area, that’s what we’re going to do.”

The added money comes as work continues on the I-65 northbound bridge over Wildcat Creek. INDOT closed the bridge in early August after noticing shifting and sinking.

INDOT said Monday that stabilizing structures have been installed, and concrete will likely be poured Tuesday.

The timeline to reopen remains mid-September, a spokesperson said.

“I honestly believe we will continue those saturated patrols there until the bridge is fixed up in the Lafayette area,” said Nielsen.

Nielsen’s been outspoken about traffic along the detour route, after a fatal crash near U.S. 52 and Indiana 47. He made a public plea to INDOT to install a traffic signal there.

The agency is now using cameras on the detour to watch for backups, and they can also adjust timing of traffic signals off-site.

“When we detect traffic backing up, or the traffic patterns change, we can make adjustments remotely,” said Will Wingfield, with INDOT.

The Indiana Criminal Justice Institute, a state agency, is providing that funding, which usually goes to saturation patrols like DUI checkpoints or seatbelt enforcement. A spokesperson said if the county exhausts its grant funding, more resources will likely be made available, because of the special circumstance.

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