County responds after drivers disregard road closureDecember 5, 2017
By CANDY NEAL
Some drivers have been moving the road blocks and road closure signs out of the way to drive across the unsafe County Road 100 West near the Huntingburg Conservation Club.
Because of this, the county highway department will remove the surface deck on the closed portion of the road to prevent vehicles from driving across it.
“This has been an ongoing problem,” County Highway Superintendent Steve Berg told the Dubois County Commissioners Monday. “We closed the road for public safety.”
Berg said he has received calls from people telling him that the blocks and signs have been moved out of the way. “If drivers are not going to abide by (the road closure signs and roadblocks), we have to do something more significant,” he said. “We have to keep it closed for public safety.”
Heavy rains that hit the area in late April and early May exposed a problem with the conservation club dam’s drainage. Because there was too much rain for the dam to handle, the water washed away some of the bank around the dam and underneath the road. For safety reasons, the lake and the section of County Road 100 West that includes the dam were closed indefinitely.
The Huntingburg Conservation Club is trying to determine what it can do to get repairs done to the dam so that the lake can reopen for public use, like swimming. Since the lake and dam are taller than 20 feet, repairs must meet state and federal guidelines, which are under the Indiana Department of Natural Resources’ jurisdiction. The dam and lake were built in 1954 and have not been significantly changed in that time, although state and federal rules have changed.
While that matter is dealt with, the county road, which runs over the top of the dam, will stay closed to traffic. “Road closed” signs and blocks have been placed on the road to prevent the public from driving across the it, Berg said.
“The message is obviously clear, that the road is closed,” he said. “This is someone who is taking it upon themselves to save a couple of minutes because it’s convenient.”
Along with safety, Berg and County Engineer Brent Wendholt are also concerned about liability. “What if those things get moved, and if a truck goes cross it, and the road fails?” Wendholt asked. “We’re trying to keep people off of it, and they are clearly not listening.”
No one is to be on the road; county crews don’t even use it, Wendholt added. “No one is supposed to be on it,” he said, “no bikers, no walkers, no one.”
The commissioners told Berg and Wendholt to keep a record of what the department has done to prevent drivers from using the road. Commissioner Elmer Brames told them to also tell the conservation club what they are doing and why, so that club members don’t think the county is doing some work to reopen the road.
Berg and Wendholt feel that taking off the surface deck will make the road inaccessible.
Commissioner Nick Hostetter told them to make sure there are signs alerting drivers that the road is closed and, in case someone moves the blocks and signs to continue driving, signs alerting the driver that the surface deck is gone.
“We hate to do this, but we have to do something,” Berg said. “We’re doing this in public interest, for their safety.”
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