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By STUART CASSIDY
SPENCER COUNTY - Drivers along Indiana highways 66 and 70 may have seen signs informing them the roads could close temporarily as road crews combat hill slides. The Indiana Department of Transportation plans three separate projects east of Grandview to stabilize embankments along the highways.
INDOT announced the closures will start July 14 and initially affect a portion of Indiana 70 from its junction with Indiana 66 and 70, west of Troy, to U.S. 231 in Chrisney, as contractor crews begin work.
Over the last several years, the hillsides have eroded, their dirt and rock inching increasingly closer to the highways. A section of Indiana 66 was repaired in 2011 after a rock fall contributed to a crash that killed one person and injured another in 2010.
According to INDOT spokeswoman Cher Elliot, the work is provisional and other repairs will be needed to initiate long-term solutions to combat the eroding slopes. She said permanent corrections to help hold the hills back are in the works. INDOT is in planning phases to begin those permanent repairs, which could begin late next year.
"We are creating an area if the hillside decides to slide that it will not fall on the road, causing a hazard," Elliot added.
In preparing for the permanent work, INDOT has budgeted an estimated $ 4.3 million for all three projINDects. Two of the three sites will use money from the Federal Highway Administration Emergency Relief Fund and the other will benefit from state transportation funds.
According to Elliot, the 2010 fatal accident, along with present dangers that hard-to-remove obstructions pose to drivers, helped spur contributions from the federal emergency fund.
The first phase of the initial improvements slated to start next week will be about .15 mile west of Indiana 66.
That section is expected to be completed July 20. The following day, contractors will resume work at a location .62 miles west of 66. That portion is expected to be finished July 27, and re-open to traffic.
During the construction, local traffic will have access to the point of closure; however, no through traffic will be allowed. The official detour will follow Indiana 66 and U.S. 231.
On July 28, crews will relocate efforts and close Indiana 66 from the junction of U.S. 231 near Rockport to the junction with 70.
According to INDOT, the area of construction is located 2.45 miles west of Indiana 70.
No through traffic will be allowed, but local residents will have access up to the point of closure.
The official detour will follow U.S. 231 and Indiana 70. The road is expected to reopen Aug. 2.
INDOT alerts motorist to the change in traffic flows and alternate routes as work will continue off and on at all three locations through the end of August.
Flaggers will control traffic during construction and drivers should plan for minimal delays.