‘Enough force to wash the road away.’ State Road 32 remains closed near county line while INDOT makes repairs

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WAYNETOWN, Ind. — It has, so far, been the second wettest summer on record and the single most rainy July 1st in 34 years. 

The Indiana Department of Transportation says all this wet weather has made their lives more difficult by creating damage along roadways throughout the state.

From a severe washout along State Road 32 just west of the Fountain and Montgomery County line to flooding on US 36 near the Ohio state line much of the Hoosier state is hoping the rain goes away.

“It’s been what, raining – it seems like every night for the past week,” Communications Director of the Crawfordsville INDOT District Debbie Calder said. “During an early morning storm here along State Road 32, that the water washed over the roadway and did so with such force that when it did, it pulled or sucked the dirt and the debris out from between the culvert pipe and the roadway, causing a void and then collapsing the roadway.”

Calder said INDOT was notified of the washout by Indiana State Troopers around 6:45 Thursday morning and crews have been working to repair the stretch of road ever since. 

“It doesn’t happen often, thank goodness, but when it does… our maintenance crews really do step up to the plate and they are out there working tirelessly to get the roadway reopened,” Calder said, “Our crews have been out there ever since we were notified this morning, we hope to have the road reopened soon.”

It’s hard work rebuilding a collapsed road. Crews first had to remove the sunken road, excavate the rusted old culvert, replace it, fill in the void with new gravel and ultimately repave the surface of the road. 

“It could be a brand-new pipe sometimes and even then, Mother Nature can have enough force to carry it away and make you start from scratch again,” Calder said. “When we’ve had this much rain and then when you get a bigger storm and like we had, the water just had so much force and it had washed everything away and collapsed the roadways.”

Calder said the hollowed-out road surrounded by cornfields and no rushing river to speak of, highlights the need for drivers to be extremely vigilant amid heavy rains.

“Just imagine, if it can destroy a road like this, it’s powerful enough to carry a car away,” Calder said. “Please turn around, don’t drown. This is an instance where, you know hey, if you happened to be in that area and decided to maybe go across the roadway when that water was rushing across… just use common sense, don’t drive through water when it’s rushing across the roadway like that.”

Calder says INDOT crews regularly inspect culverts throughout the state to make sure they are kept up to par and ready for whatever force nature throws at them. 

“They are inspected and kept on a system for repair and replacement,” Calder said. “But you wouldn’t believe, there’s a lot more than you would really expect to be out there beneath the roadway.”

With much less water present, but still water actively rushing through the new culvert along State Road 32 and water encroaching along the roadway, INDOT hopes the rainy start of summer isn’t a sign of things yet to come. 

“We hope it stops raining here, but we’re prepared if it does,” Calder said. “It’s more of a rarity that it would come to a situation like this, but it has occurred before and it will continue to occur.”

State Road 32 will remain closed while INDOT crews continue to pack down the area and resurface the road. Crews estimate it will reopen late Tuesday evening.

If you happen to drive upon a washed-out road – you’re asked to call 911 immediately to report it. You can also call the INDOT Customer Service Line at 855-INDOT4U or 855.463.6848

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