Road to close for safety study

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    Pendleton has placed signs up warning trucks about the potential to get hung up on the railroad tracks that run parallel to State Road 67 at Madison Avenue. Submitted

    PENDLETON — The Town of Pendleton plans to close Madison Avenue between Water Tower Drive and State Road 67 beginning Friday, Feb. 5, to allow for a comprehensive safety study of the area.

    “Since the semi-train accident (on Oct. 9), there have been additional complaints of traffic hazards at Madison Avenue and State Road 67,” town manager Scott Reske said.

    During the afternoon commute on that Friday last fall, a semi-tractor trailer turned off State Road 67 onto westbound Madison Avenue and became stuck on railroad tracks, which run parallel to the road about 50 feet away.

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    A short time later, a southbound CSX train plowed into the tractor portion of the truck, which the driver had managed to disconnect from the trailer. The tractor was pushed about 200 yards down the tracks and burst into flames. There were no injuries in the crash, which was caught on video and can be viewed online.

    The town will conduct the safety study with assistance from one of its consulting firms, Banning Engineering, Reske said.

    During the temporary closure, which is expected to last at least six weeks, motorists will not be able to turn onto Madison Avenue from State Road 67 or access State Road 67 from Madison Avenue.

    Water Tower Drive, which is west of the tracks, will remain open.

    The study will look at line of sight, the grade of the approach to the tracks, and traffic speed, volume, flow and stacking, as well as other things, such as the traffic around Pendleton Heights High School.

    “There’s just a whole bunch of issues,” Reske said, calling it “foolhardy” not to recognize the train accident as a harbinger of future problems — and a signal to do something to prevent them.

    The town has put up signs at several points on Madison Avenue and Angle Road indicating that semi-trucks “will hang up” on the railroad tracks.

    Additional signage is on order from Indiana Department of Transportation (INDOT). Those signs will be placed on the approach to Madison Avenue along State Road 67 in both directions, warning about turning onto Madison Avenue from State Road 67.

    Reske said he request no-turn signs but that INDOT turned that request down, opting for warning signs instead.