ISP ticketing trucks for ignoring split detour

Semi drivers are cutting down residential streets to avoid south split construction.
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Two weeks into the big south split construction project and Indiana State Police are aggressively targeting truckers who are ignoring warnings, cutting through neighborhoods, scaring residents and backing up traffic.

Since the highway closed through the I-65/I-70 split, semis have been exiting at Fletcher Avenue and other downtown neighborhood exits instead of going around I-465. Those who get caught are getting some expensive directions.

Andrew Forgey looked like Indiana's busiest state trooper Monday. Working the I-65 ramp to Fletcher Avenue, at times, Trooper Forgey was pulling over semis faster than he could write tickets.

"Good, I'm glad," said Fountain Square resident Kelli Sullivan when she heard the news. "They don't need to be going down residential streets like this."

Semis zig-zagging around interstate construction, seeking shortcuts, instead of driving a lengthy detour, are snarling local traffic and police say endangering the people who live work and play here.

Sullivan watches them from her apartment.

"They drive through like it was a thoroughfare, as opposed to a residential side street," she said.

The Fountain Square area, with lots of kids, walkers and cyclists, appears to be getting the worst of it. Streets are narrow and weren't built to handle the weight of so many big trucks.

"There's overpasses that may not be able to clear, turns that are going to be too tight for them. It messes up traffic extremely," said ISP Sgt. Chris Kath.

Trooper Forgey got an earful from truckers insisting they didn't see the detour signs, didn't understand them or were confused.

One driver, who didn't share his name, claimed he was trapped in the wrong lane and couldn't follow the detour signs.

"There was so much traffic, people coming and going," he complained. "I got a real heavy load, I couldn't get over."

Getting pulled over cost him and about two dozen other drivers about $130.

The rebuilding of the interstate is beginning its third week. Police want to get traffic under control, because construction is going to be going on until the end of October. A spokesman for the Indiana Department of Transportation says the contractor is aggressively working to meet or beat its 59-day schedule.