INDIANAPOLIS – If you’ve been on the interstate lately and have seen more cops than usual, you are not alone.
Indiana State Police are boosting their presence on the freeway this week in some major construction zones. There is quite a bit of construction taking place on I-465 near I-69 on the northeast side of Indianapolis. With that work comes a few lane restrictions and ramp closures.
“It’s not what people are used to on 465,” said Kyleigh Cramer with INDOT. “You know, with the work zone, it’s 45 miles an hour.”
The construction taking place is reducing speeds drastically, which Cramer said is for good reason.
“I know that a lot of people don’t prefer that that’s the speed,” she said. “We totally understand, but what we found is that’s the best way to keep our motorists and our crews safe.”
Along with those reduced speeds comes a larger presence of police vehicles on the side of the highway.
“Not only are we placing troopers and IMPD officers throughout these zones for visibility,” described Sgt. John Perrine with ISP. “We’re also strategically placing them to respond to calls in those zones so that we can get them cleared up and cleaned up as quickly as possible.”
According to INDOT, crashes in work zones resulted in 31 deaths and more than 1,400 injuries last year. Nearly four out of five people killed in those work zones were drivers or passengers, INDOT reports.
“When somebody hits the back of stopped traffic at highway speed, oftentimes it’s deadly and it’s devastating,” Perrine said.
This is why ISP said many of the lone police vehicles you see on the side of the road may already have their lights flashing before the construction.
“Sometimes we place those police cars with lights on before the zone just to start to grab somebody’s attention, get them to slow down and make them start paying attention to what’s ahead of them,” Perrine said.
While this strategy aims to slow drivers down right now, some work zones could have an additional layer of protection starting next year. The state will add security cameras in some construction zones as part of a new pilot program aimed at increasing highway construction zone safety.
“It’s going to be in some specific work zones that we’re seeing a lot of speeding, a lot of crashes this, that and the other,” Cramer said.
INDOT has not yet announced which work zones will have security cameras as part of the pilot program. However, Cramer said there would likely be some cameras added in Marion County.
Right now, INDOT is helping pay these work zone patrol officers overtime. ISP said troopers and IMPD officers are currently increasing visibility on I-465 southbound between Allisonville Road and Pendleton Pike as well as I-70 near the Plainfield exit on the west side.