Chesterton Tribune

State to relocate arrow at deadly 49 intersection

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Related Story from Oct. 24: Photos: Fatal at 49 and Gateway not the first accident at confusing intersection

 

By KEVIN NEVERS

Motorists southbound on Ind. 49 and approaching Gateway Blvd. will soon have an earlier and clearer view of the left-turn signal at that intersection.

The LaPorte District of the Indiana Department of Transportation announced today that, probably by the end of this week, it will re-locate that left-turn signal further to the west, to bring it into more meaningful proximity to the other three signals for southbound traffic.

Currently the left-turn signal is widely separated from those three signals, located as it is east of the median and overhanging the northbound left-turn lanes.

“INDOT investigated the traffic signal in response to local concern,” a statement released this morning said. “The signal was placed in its current configuration to be in line with the direction traffic faces before turning onto Gateway. The left turn lane is a bit away from the southbound Ind. 49 through lanes in order to give proper clearance for the dual left turn lanes accessing the Indiana Toll Road from northbound Ind. 49.”

INDOT did not say exactly where the left-turn signal would be re-located.

INDOT announced its investigation of the intersection last week, two hours after the Chesterton Tribune informed an INDOT public information officer that a Portage woman had died in a three vehicle accident there on Oct. 23, when the driver of the vehicle in which she was riding turned left against a red light from southbound Ind. 49 onto eastbound Gateway Blvd.

Local police officers have expressed the concern that a motorist southbound on Ind. 49 and approaching the intersection of Gateway Blvd. could potentially confuse the leftmost through signal for the left-turn signal, see that the leftmost turn signal is green, and mistakenly believe that he has a green light to turn onto eastbound Gateway Blvd.

It’s unclear whether the driver in the Oct. 23 fatal crash actually made that mistake, but as recently as Sept. 9 another motorist apparently did in a two vehicle accident which left three persons injured. That motorist advised the officer investigating the Sept. 9 crash that she was uncertain whether she had been looking at the left-turn signal or one of the other three signals for southbound motorists.

Between Sept. 31, 2006, and Oct. 1, 2007, a total of 16 crashes with nine injuries has been investigated at that intersection by the Chesterton Police Department, the Porter County Sheriff’s Police, and the Indiana State Police. It was not immediately known how many of those crashes involved a southbound motorist’s turn left against a red light.

 

Posted 10/30/2007