INDOT to begin closing Highway 129 for repairs

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For years Switzerland County residents have been waiting for the Indiana Department of Transportation to make road improvements to State Road 129 between Vevay and Pleasant.

Tomorrow, that work will begin.

Project supervisor Brad Wathen said that INDOT will begin closing sections of State Road 129 tomorrow (Friday). The work will begin on the south end, and different phases will be completed as the crews work to the north.

During the work, which is anticipated to take until October of 2007, portions of highway 129 will be completely closed to through traffic.

“We are going to close the road on Friday (tomorrow), so that people can get to work,” Brad Wathen said. “That gives people the weekend to figure out how they’re going to get around during the construction.”

Crews are already working on the far south end of the road to the west of the Switzerland County YMCA, and will close that portion of the road tomorrow. Brad Wathen describes the closing as a “moving closure”, meaning that different sections of the road will be closed at different times.

“When we finish a phase of the project, then we will open that phase and close the next phase, which will be to the north of the finished phase,” Brad Wathen said. “We’ll work our way north as we reopen the phases to the south.”

Because this is a “moving closure”, Brad Wathen and INDOT officials will be working with various county agencies to coordinate the changing closures.

“We’re going to be meeting with police, EMS, the postal service and the schools on the 21st to begin discussing the situation,” Brad Wathen said. “Because the closure will be moving at different times, things like school bus routes will have to be readjusted as we continue the project. We need to coordinate all of that.”

Brad Wathen said that although the road will be closed to traffic, property owners and home owners will have access to their land during construction — but he reiterates that “closed means closed.”

“We’ve got some very large equipment coming in here to work on this project, and some of that equipment is so large that the operator may have trouble seeing what’s going on right around their equipment,” Brad Wathen said. “If someone drives into the area, it could be a very dangerous situation for them and for us.”

Officially, the Indiana Department of Transportation has established a detour using State Road 250 to and from East Enterprise and State Road 56 from East Enterprise to Vevay. People needing to travel through the county should take steps to use this route.

INDOT hopes to be as far north as Detour Road by fall, and Brad Wathen says that there will be no road closure from December 1st to April 1st in either 2005 or 2006.

“We’re going to try and work with people as much as we can,” Brad Wathen said. “But it’s inevitable that we’re going to have to close the road. We understand that it will inconvenience people, but we’re going to try and keep things closed for as short a time as possible.”