Commuters will have to endure extensive traffic delays on the city’s far west side for several days, the result of high water levels, officials said.
The electronic control system for the traffic signals at Jonathan Moore Pike and Interstate 65 is submerged, causing the stop-and-go lights to malfunction, said Harry Maginity, spokesman for the Indiana Department of Transportation, which was immediately notified after the problem was reported at 7 a.m. Thursday.
“It could take several days to get it fixed,” Maginity said Thursday.
City police officers were directing traffic not only at that intersection, but also along nearby Carr Hill Road and Johnson Boulevard, Columbus Police spokesman Lt. Matt Harris said.
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With all malfunctioning signals now blinking red, officers are expected to continue directing traffic during daylight hours until the problem is fixed, the police spokesman said. During overnight hours, the department will have an officer monitoring the intersection for possible complications, Harris said.
Jonathan Moore Pike itself has been open since heavy rains began to impact Bartholomew County roads, and there are no plans to close it due to flooding, said Shannon Hinton, Bartholomew County Emergency Management director.
Motorists on Jonathan Moore Pike, also known as State Road 46, are advised to expect traffic delays for this morning, Hinton said.
Since sections of both County Road 325W and Lowell Road were closed by flooding, that popular detour is unavailable now for west-side commuters. Southern Crossing, usually another option, is also closed due to high water.
However, Hinton said she is hoping the East Fork White River, which crested Thursday morning, will recede enough to open State 11 at Garden City sometime today, which would help relieve the traffic-light congestion.
“We are already seeing a fall in the river levels,” Hinton said Thursday afternoon.
The East Fork White River is not expected to fall below flood stage until Saturday morning, the National Weather Service said.
Avoidable water incidents
Five water-related incidents were reported between noon Wednesday and early Thursday morning, but most of them were avoidable — the result of motorists driving around barricades, Columbus Township Fire Chief Dave Thompson said.
The fifth one occurred when a Columbus woman drove her Toyota around a barricade along State Road 11 in Garden City, and became stuck in flood waters.
After Andrea N. Bush, 29, of 4811 25th St. was rescued, officers discovered she was carrying cocaine, several prescription pills, marijuana and drug paraphernalia, according to the Columbus Police Department.
Bush, who was taken to the Bartholomew County Jail, is facing two Level 6 felony drug charges, as well as four misdemeanors.
The basic fine for disregarding a traffic control device in Bartholomew County is $137, said Sgt. Stephen Wheeles, spokesman for the Indiana State Police post in Versailles. But if circumstances warrant it, the state will allows fines as high as $500, said Lt. Gary Knoef of the Bartholomew County Sheriff’s Department.
As of 2 p.m. Thursday, deputies had issued eight tickets to motorists seen driving past road-closed signs this week, Sheriff Matt Myers said.
In addition to tickets, deputies have issued a dozen warnings to motorists who have driven through high water when the road was not closed or properly marked, the sheriff said.
Although county deputies have been working 12-hour shifts since Tuesday, Columbus Police have been able to maintain their normal daily schedules, Harris said.
Deputies, especially those who work with the Bartholomew County Water Rescue Team, are being closely monitored to ensure they are not suffering from exhaustion or other issues, Knoef said.
These are the roads that were still being impacted by flood waters as of 3:30 p.m. Thursday.
State Road 11 at Garden City
Tellman Road, from County Road 200W to Indianapolis Road
State Road 11 at County Road 550S
County Road 800S, between State Road 11 and U.S. 31
County Road 400N gates are closed
County Road 900N, between County Roads 200E and 300E
County Road 200W to North Indianapolis Road
County Road 200N at County Road 325W
County Road 325W, between Georgetown and Lowell roads.
County Road N. 330W about a half-mile south of Ohio Ridge Road.
Lowell Road from west of Interstate 65 to County Road 325W
County Road 325W, from Lowell to Carlos Folger roads.
County Road 325W, south of Georgetown Road
Tannehill Road at State Road 330W
Tellman Camp Road
County Road 600E at County Road 850S
Lowell Road at 330W
Most rivers in south central Indiana have crested and were receding Thursday afternoon, according to the National Weather Service.
East Fork White River: Flood warning continues until Saturday morning. The river crested at 5.5 feet above flood stage Thursday, and was expected to fall below flood stage by tonight.
Driftwood River (near Edinburgh): Flood warning continues until Saturday morning. The river was expected to rise about four feet over the 11-feet flood stage Thursday afternoon, and fall below flood stage tonight.
Flatrock River: Flood warning expected to expire this morning.