yesterday, July 4.
“As we are only
halfway through the summer season, it’s our hope that people will be patient
while dealing with traffic backups,” Lane told the Chesterton Tribune
after he said a combination of increased traffic from the holiday and high
heat prompted traffic backups as many people tried to enter the National
Lakeshore to go to the beach. “Everybody had the idea to cool off. It was a
perfect storm with the holiday and the heat index. It happens once or twice
a year,” he said.
At one point,
northbound Ind. 49 was backed up to the interchange with U.S. 20, and
Waverly Road was backed up north of and all the way back to U.S. 12. Lane
said one reason for the backups could be connected to the Indiana
Dunes State Park
having only one lane open at the gate when traffic began piling up. By the
time more lanes were opened, the backup had gotten too large to curtail.
Lane said the
backups were complicated by people trying to bypass long lines by turning
around, which resulted in one vehicle needing to be towed after getting
stuck in a ditch on Waverly Road, and diverting the flow of traffic from
U.S. 20 along State Park Road to Ind. 49, where drivers were not letting in
the overflow traffic.
Lane said three
officers were dedicated solely to dealing with traffic related issues
yesterday, and other officers had to handle a high call volume that included
reports of heat exposure, a lost child and lost senior citizen, and a crash
on U.S. 20 that required extrication and a helicopter airlift for an injured
occupant of the vehicle. The official full police report for that crash was
not available yet as of Thursday morning, Lane said.
Lane said though
yesterday was unique in the volume of backups and length of delays, summer
traffic is an ever present issue in the area. “During the summer months,
with the volume of traffic coming to the Dunes, delays are simply