To the point week of 5-21-09

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THERE’S SOMETHING ABOUT THE RIVER Road. Again during the past week the eyes of the community have been turned toward an accident involving two young men that occurred on State Road 56 west of Vevay; and as the thoughts and prayers of residents here are with Justin Truitt and Zack Daugherty; we also need to stay aware of the road that many of us travel on a daily basis.

We call it the “River Road”, but whether or not you’re west of Vevay on State Road 56; or east of Vevay on State Road 156; the “River Road” is a winding piece of asphalt that has proven to be as dangerous for drivers as its scenery is beautiful to motorists.

And it is getting more dangerous.

Accidents happen, and no one can prevent them; but there are several recent decisions that have turned up the heat on the roadway.

A recent decision by the State of Indiana, spurred on by the City of Madison, no longer allows semi trucks with their cargos of rolled steel to cross the Madison-Milton Bridge.

That means that truckers who are trying to get their load north toward Interstate 74 are now left with the Markland Dam Bridge as their only alternative to getting over the river and to northern Indiana.

So those trucks are now crossing at Markland – and driving along the River Road through a large portion of the county, and past three of our four schools.

It’s been a few years, but as Belterra Casino Resort and Spa becomes more and more of a popular destination with visitors, each and every one of them travels down the River Road to get there.

Some a very short distance after coming off of the Markland Dam Bridge. Others a longer distance coming from Rising Sun or Madison or points north.

The county has also welcomed members of the Amish community here, and they have become valued members of this community.

Their beliefs and lifestyle have also brought increased horse and buggy traffic to the county and state roads; which translates into drivers of motor vehicles having to pay even closer attention.

Those of us who live here are learning to drive more carefully, particularly in certain areas of the county; but out of towners don’t know all of the county like we do, and more attention needs to be brought to motorists to keep everyone more safe.

Add to that all of Switzerland County’s famous wildlife to the mix, and dodging deer and wild turkeys also make driving here hazardous.

While we can’t do much about certain aspects of our increased traffic, I believe that it is essential for local and county government to press for the lifting of restrictions on the Madison-Milton Bridge in the short term; and for the replacement of that bridge in the long term so that normal commercial traffic can once again use it.

Vevay’s Pete Furnish, longtime member of the Vevay Town Council and advocate for the people of this county, brought the issue of increased truck traffic to my attention earlier this week; and I believe that he is right when he says that the county needs to move quickly and decisively to stem the increased number of semis rolling through our county and our county seat.

The improvements to State Road 129 have been well received by county residents; but it has also caused increased traffic moving through the county – and that traffic is moving faster.

We’ve already seen an increased number of steel trucks roll over at one particular portion of the new roadway; and there are other spots along the corridor that are ripe for accidents.

Drive south on Highway 129, and after going through Moorefield, pay particular attention when you approach “Kern’s Corner”.

The road used to continue straight until you got to Mark Archer’s house, and then made a sharp left toward Long Run Baptist Church.

Now, the road curves to the left before getting that far south, but the old roadway still remains as a driveway for the Kern Farm.

But, if you’re looking, as you approach it you can still see the old road, and it looks like it continues to travel south there.

But it doesn’t.

Once you get to the new curve, you can look and see where a section of roadway has been taken out.

There’s no sign showing the curve in the road. No guard rail to keep a car from going off of the roadway and down over the brim.

Nothing.

For those not familiar with that portion of Switzerland County road, it’s a dangerous situation that the Indiana Department of Transportation needs to address.

Many improvements have been made by county officials to our county roads; but it is imperative that town and county officials continue to press state representatives and state highway officials about making improvements to state roads that run through this county.

If the Switzerland County Industrial Park begins to welcome tenants, the matter is only going to intensify -so now is the time for our voice to be heard.