INDOT Opens Bidding for Northern Spencer County ‘J-Turns’

State transportation officials are moving ahead with their plans to make a pair of dangerous intersections in northern Spencer County safer.

Officials with the Indiana Department of Transportation say an advertisement for bids was released earlier today for construction of “J-turns” at the north and south junctions of US 231 and State Road 62 near Dale. INDOT says it expects to open contractor bids on October 7th. Construction is expected to begin in the spring of 2016.

Dale Fatal Accident MapOf course, this announcement comes after public hearings back in January and April. INDOT also completed an engineering study of traffic and crash data that it compiled with the help of an outside consultant. These efforts have come about following a late December 2014 crash which claimed the life of retired Heritage Hills Middle School principal Susan Grundhoefer.

INDOT says stoplights, roundabouts and overpasses were also studied for the intersections. However, state officials say J-turns are the best solutions to addressing the specific kind of accidents seen at the Dale intersections.

Now INDOT says J-turns allow drivers to cross only one direction of traffic at a time, and reduce the number of potential crash conflict points from the current 42 down to 24. INDOT says other states that have installed J-turns have seen on average a 50% overall reduction in crashes. J-turns also reduce ‘T-bone’ crashes from 24 potential conflict points down to just four.

U.S. 231 traffic will still be able to go straight or turn left and right at all intersections once work is completed. State Road 62 and 68 traffic wanting to turn left or go straight will do so indirectly by first turning right, merging across traffic and then making a legal U-turn.

The J-turns were first proposed at a public hearing back in late April at Heritage Hills High School. INDOT opened the state’s first J-turn earlier this year at U.S. 41 and State Road 114 in Newton County near Morocco. INDOT spokesman Will Wingfield says J-turns will become more prevalent down the road:

The reaction to J-turns since they were announced back in May has been mixed. Many people, including members of Susan Grundhoefer’s family, have called for stoplights or an overpass to resolve the traffic concerns.