INDOT: Extra steps being taken to avoid repeat of weekend I-70 closures

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HANCOCK COUNTY, Ind. -- Officials with the Indiana Department of Transportation (INDOT) say two emergency closures of I-70 over the weekend will prompt them to take extra steps to prevent something similar from happening again.

A buckling of shoulder pavement forced INDOT to close eastbound I-70 east of Greenfield Saturday afternoon. The crumbled pavement appeared in an area where traffic had been shifted to the left lane and shoulder to make room for repair work that started September 6. Eastbound traffic was diverted from the interstate while contractors spent six hours making emergency repairs to the roadway.

However, INDOT officials say overnight traffic in the area caused the shoulder surface to crumble apart again and the interstate was closed for a second time Sunday morning. Contractors did another round of emergency repairs throughout Sunday and the left lane was reopened to traffic Monday morning.

INDOT spokesperson, Mallory Duncan, said wet soil under and around the shoulder contributed to the pavement collapsing under the diverted traffic through the area.

“And that was exacerbated by people going off the road, actually, to avoid rumble strips or whatever and pushed some of that dirt underneath, which helped crumble the shoulder,” Duncan said Monday.

Emergency repairs to the roadway included milling and resurfacing 2500 feet the damaged portion of the interstate shoulder. Contractors also put in a double layer of rock and gravel below the asphalt to better allow any water to drain down into the soil away from the surface.

Duncan said soil and shoulder testing prior to the traffic shift revealed no anticipated problems with the roadway.

In the future, Duncan said projects that involve shifting traffic onto the shoulder of an interstate or highway will include the potential for strengthening the shoulder before the traffic shift occurs.

“We want everyone to be safe and we don’t want any delays like we had this weekend again,” Duncan said. “So, we’re definitely going to look at that and see if we can make it part of our plan, if it’s necessary.”

It’s not clear if the weekend problems will result in any changes to the way soil and pavement are tested prior to road construction projects.

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