State Road 1 sign near the St. Leon exit of
(Lawrenceburg, Ind.) – A semi truck breaks down where there is no shoulder to pull over, an 18-wheeler putts up a steep hill, another tractor trailer grinds a guardrail.
It’s an issue that has been on the minds of many Dearborn County motorists for years: the safety issues of allowing semi trucks on State Road 1 between Interstate 74 and Greendale.
Indiana Department of Transportation officials met with Dearborn County Commissioners and State Rep. Jud McMillin (R-Brookville) Thursday in Lawrenceburg to discuss what steps can be taken.
The 15 miles of hills and twisting turns from St. Leon to Greendale is not ideal for trucks as McMillin can attest.
“I’ve heard from a lot of constituents, but driving State Road 1 myself I’ve seen it a lot,” McMillin said. “While I fully respect the need for commerce in the area and trucks to travel, I also understand at some point we outweigh commerce by providing dangerous situations for travelers on the road.”
Dearborn County Engineer Todd Listerman said trucking companies tell their drivers to use State Road 1 as a time and distance shortcut between Interstate 74 and Interstate 275 bypassing Cincinnati.
There is another benefit. Those trucks can avoid a truck weighing station in either direction near the Indiana-Ohio state line.
A yellow warning sign is posted on the interstates at each end of State Road 1 advising trucks about the dangers of the road, however, those signs are not regulatory. The signs are just advising truckers against using the road and does not mean they face a ticket by taking the shortcut, said INDOT Seymour District Deputy Commissioner Kathy Eaton-McKalip.
Listerman said an about 14,000 vehicles travel State Road 1 on average each day. An abnormally large amount of that traffic, between 20 and 25 percent, is trucks.
During the meeting, INDOT and the county began two discuss two options which could potentially rid State Road 1 of trucks passing through.
One course of action would be for INDOT to pay the county – a figure of around $10 million was discussed – up front to take responsibility for the highway. INDOT will develop a proposal for county commissioners to review and decide whether to accept the offer.
Following the meeting, Listerman told Eagle 99.3 the $10 million figure would be “a drop in the bucket” to assess the needed improvements on State Road 1. INDOT provided estimates of $3 million to create a third climbing lane on Dover Hill, about $5 million to improve various intersections, and more money needed to correct slips where hillsides along the road are sinking into the Tanners Creek bed.
“It would cost the county a lot of money to maintain that road,” said Commissioner Tom Orschell.
Listerman said the county could seek federal funding to help address needs in the event of a county takeover, but there is no guarantee the county would get the amount it needs.
Another option discussed Thursday would be to as the federal government to remove the highway from a national registry of roads which semis are permitted to use.
“It’s a longshot,” Orschell said of both options.
The three commissioners decided to continue investigating solutions as the meeting wrapped up.
“I don’t think you can put a price tag on safety on that road,” Commissioner Shane McHenry said.