Storm damage forces closure of U.S. 30 tonight
By Christin Nance Lazerus firstname.lastname@example.org July 2, 2014 12:48PM
Updated: July 3, 2014 2:07AM
U.S. 30 will be closed between Interstate 65 and U.S. 41 starting at 10 p.m. Wednesday while NIPSCO and the Indiana Department of Transportation crews repair damage from Monday night’s storms.
The work is expected to take 12 hours, but it could end earlier or later depending on weather and other conditions, INDOT spokesman Matt Deitchley said.
He said the problems stemmed from several power lines being knocked down, which directed 70,000 volts onto traffic signal wiring, which essentially fried them.
Traffic was backed up along U.S. 30 at the Taft Street intersection, which was turned into a four-way stop when the traffic signals became inoperable. The downed power lines actually took down the lights that affect westbound traffic, and they were crumpled up in a heap on the northwest corner of the intersection.
NIPSCO will repair the downed power lines near the intersection of Taft Street and U.S. 30, which NIPSCO spokesman Nick Meyer said will take about three hours. Meyer said NIPSCO initially planned to do their work on Tuesday, but INDOT said they would create efficiencies by doing the work simultaneously.
Then, INDOT crews will direct their attention toward replacing traffic signals.
The work is scheduled mostly for overnight hours to lessen the impact on businesses, but some are already concerned about the closure.
Kimberly Wallace, general manager for Catch-22 restaurant in Merrillville, said the timing is less than ideal.
“Wednesday is one of our busiest days for business, when we have $1 bottles (of beer) and $5 burgers,” Wallace said. “It’s one of our highest volume nights, so where we’d usually close around midnight we’re open until 2 or 3 a.m., so it’s definitely going to have impact. It’s how we and our staff make money.
“Tuesday would have been better.”
Wallace said there are some side roads to access the restaurant via Broadway, but not everyone knows about it.
Deitchley said closing the road for an extended period of time is the only option.
“Crews will be dragging huge cables across the road for the entire stretch of (U.S. 30),” he said.
Around 23,000 NIPSCO customers are still without power in Northern Indiana, including 2,422 in Gary, 1,803 in Hammond, 1,780 in Portage, 1,255 in Merrillville, and 792 in St. John.
Signs are already alerting drivers to the closure and the proposed detour: I-65 to I-80/94 to U.S. 41 for westbound traffic and the reverse for eastbound traffic. Deitchley said the Indiana State Police will assist INDOT with closing down access to U.S. 30 around 10 p.m.
Any changes to the work schedule will be posted to the www.facebook.com/INDOTNorthwest and @INDOTNorthwest on Twitter.