GREENFIELD, Ind. – Authorities and drivers are looking forward to the end of road construction season, which has resulted in heavy traffic congestion in and around downtown Greenfield.
Greenfield Police Deputy Chief Chuck McMichael says multiple construction zones and nearly daily backups on I-70 are sending additional traffic to U.S. 40 through the downtown area.
U.S. 40 is the official detour for I-70 construction happening in Hancock County. However, many drivers hoping to avoid backups on I-70 run into another roadblock on State Road 9, which connects I-70 to U.S. 40. A two-mile stretch of SR 9 through downtown Greenfield is closed for a major repaving project.
Aside from heavier-than-normal congestion through Greenfield’s main downtown street, McMichael said drivers are causing issues in neighborhoods as they find their own way around closures and backups.
“We’ve had a lot of issues with semis getting stuck in residential neighborhoods,” McMichael said. “We’ve had a lot of instances of semis taking down power utility lines and hitting street signs and stop signs. We’ve had semis end up in peoples’ front yards, driving through front yards trying to make turns, and clearly, they’re going up and over sidewalks to do that.”
McMichael said the added congestion through downtown is also an extra challenge for Police, Fire and EMS.
“So, when those roads are backed up and congested, it definitely leads to a delayed response for us,” he said.
During times of extreme backup, like when a crash on I-70 causes vehicles to pour into downtown Greenfield, volunteers with the Hancock County Emergency Management Agency are called in to manually operate traffic signals in order to help move traffic along.
McMichael said Greenfield officials have been told the I-70 and SR 9 projects should both finish around the end of summer, barring any delays. In the meantime, he’s asking drivers to be aware of the decisions they make when creating their own detours through the downtown area and neighborhoods.
“It increases the risk to safety to pedestrians because the sidewalks are fairly close to those roadways in those areas because they’re not designed for heavy traffic flow,” McMichael said.