JOHNSON COUNTY, Ind – Police are growing more concerned about drivers speeding through I-69 construction zones south of Indianapolis.
According to Major Andy Fisher, with the Johnson County Sheriff’s Department, speeding is constant through the construction area on a daily basis.
“Nobody’s abiding by the 45 mile-per-hour speed limit, for the most part,” Major Fisher said. “It can be a disaster waiting to happen.”
On Wednesday, Fisher began running radar along State Road 37 where INDOT and contract crews are working to reconstruct the highway into the new leg of I-69. For every driver doing 45-to-50 miles per hour, there was another doing 60-65 miles per hour. Within five minutes, Fisher clocked a driver doing 71 miles per hour through the work zone.
That prompted Fisher to initiate a traffic stop, going northbound toward the Greenwood area. That traffic stop highlighted a challenge that police are facing while trying to enforce the 45 miles per hour speed limit; two narrow lanes tucked between two concrete walls doesn’t leave much space to pull speeders over.
“If we tried to stop her here, there’s nowhere we could stop her,” Fisher said while following the driver.
It took a couple of miles for Fisher to find a safe place to pull the woman over at the intersection of SR 37 and Smith Valley Road. Fisher gave the woman a warning before sending her on her way.
“It’s a safety issue for the motorists that are trying to get to where they’re trying to get,” Fisher said. “It’s a safety issue for our deputies or officers that are trying to stop them. And it’s a safety issue for the people that are violating the infraction by speeding.”
“It’s hard for us to safely get someone stopped without causing a collision at certain times of the day and risking the lives of ourselves, the violator that is committing it and everyone else that’s actually trying to do the right thing and drive safe through these construction zones.”
In areas where traffic stops are impossible, INDOT has placed digital signs that display drivers’ speeds as they approach. The signs are intended to get drivers to slow down if they see they are going too fast. According to Fisher, the results are hit-and-miss.
“Because right now, there’s somebody coming up behind us at 57 miles an hour here in the left lane,” he said while driving through the work zone.
Fisher said his department and other police agencies are in regular communication with INDOT about the conditions and changing traffic configurations.
“Obviously none of us want every roadway shut down, so we just need to be patient and realize they’re doing the best they can to keep themselves safe and everyone else safe,” he said. “They’re doing the best they can to keep themselves safe and everyone else safe, and they put these speed limits in place to follow and that’s what people need to do.”