I-65 construction troubling first responders

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (Feb. 15, 2016) – Indiana State Police, the Indiana Department of Transportation and first responders from agencies along I-65 will meet Friday to discuss better ways to respond to accidents on the interstate this upcoming construction season.

“It just creates a big problem when you have the construction and the traffic that builds up behind those (accidents),” Franklin Firefighter Brad Epperson said. "Normal response times can be slowed down."

Last fall, Epperson tried to respond to a crash south of Franklin on I-65.

"What happened is a semi hit one of the jersey barriers and crossed over into the southbound lane that they had set up," he said. "It completely bogged traffic down where traffic couldn’t move whatsoever. So as the responding engine on that call we were miles behind the accident and didn’t move for over two hours.”

Epperson was forced to call for mutual aid on that run. He said in some cases last year medics had to have state police stop traffic so they could jump across the road barriers to get to patients at the scene of an accident.

“That’s what it comes down to is how quickly can you get to the patient in that car," he said.

INDOT creates a traffic management plan before every construction project, but spokesman Harry Maginity said with big projects like I-65 there it takes a lot of strategy to find the best routes for first responders.

“It’s not like you’re resurfacing something," Maginity said. "The entire highway disappears a couple of lanes at a time."

Discussions at Friday's traffic incident management meeting are likely to focus around where to put breaks in the road barriers for this construction season. Epperson also said it would be useful to have machinery available to move the large concrete barriers in case of an accident.

"Having equipment staged to be able to get things like (barriers) moved out of the way is probably going to be beneficial too," Epperson said.

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