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Legislator pushing for changes at troubled intersection

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The state plans to install a flashing light at an intersection on the west side of North Vernon where a driver died.

But putting up a light in February might not be quick enough, and it may not even be the best or only answer for improving the intersection of State Road 750 and U.S. 50, a local lawmaker says.

State Rep. Jim Lucas, R-Seymour, who represents part of Jennings County, is basing that assessment on a meeting he had Aug. 19 with Indiana Department of Transportation officials at the intersection where Gregory E. Green, 52, of North Vernon, died June 26 after he was involved in a three-vehicle wreck.

Lucas said he has talked with many people who want to see improvements made to that intersection, which opened Dec. 10 with completion of the northwest leg of the State Road 750 bypass around North Vernon.

“I’ve had a lot of people contact me about the intersection, and that’s a good thing,” Lucas said. “It helps me realize they’re concerned.”

Shawn Malone of Seymour is one of those people with concerns. Green often visited Malone’s pizzeria.

“After the period of time since opening and now, I believe enough drivers have voiced their opinions,” Malone said. “This is a dangerous intersection; and at this point, if they won’t add a stoplight, then overhead lighting and more signage is necessary to alert all motorists of the odd and still new intersection.”

Malone said the public should not have to avoid a section of road because of fear when the state could do more to alert motorists of what is truly a hazardous section of road.

Lucas said this week’s meeting provided a better understanding of what needs to be done to improve traffic flow at the intersection, which has been the scene of five other wrecks since State Road 750 opened.

Green died after the 1996 Buick he was driving was struck by a 25-foot flatbed trailer being towed by a 2012 Ford F250 driven by Zachary S. Ziegler, 21, of Westport, according to a report from Indiana State Police.

Green was a pharmacist at Bevers Family Pharmacy on West Second Street in Seymour and had worked at other pharmacies in the area through the years.

No charges were filed in the wreck, which also involved a 2004 Toyota driven by Marcea L. Oetting of Orlando, Florida.

At the time, the state police reported Oetting, who had been driving east on U.S. 50, turned left onto a county road and into the path of Ziegler, who was driving west on State Road 750. Ziegler’s truck and the trailer continued west, and the trailer hit Green’s vehicle.

After the wreck, Maj. Jerry Shepherd with the Jennings County Sheriff’s Department called the intersection dangerous. He lives in Hayden and drives through the intersection on his way home from work each day.

Harry Maginity, a spokesman for INDOT, said the state plans to install flashing lights at the intersection with red flashers for people entering State Road 750 from U.S. 50. There will be yellow flashers for those entering U.S. 50 from State Road 750.

That work won’t occur until February, however, as part of the contract for construction of the eastern segment of State Road 750, which is a bypass around the north side of North Vernon.

The light will reinforce the two-way stop that is now in place, Maginity said.

Motorists need to exercise extra caution any time there is a change in traffic flow, he added.

Maginity said the state installed double-mounted, oversized stop signs to make the intersection more visible to motorists.

Lucas said that, in this week’s conversations with state officials, there was talk of installing signs notifying motorists about the intersection and not having to stop.

“We had some very good discussion about potential upgrades or things that we could do to make this intersection safer,” he said. “It was a very productive meeting.

I’m just waiting to hear back from them.”

Lucas said he plans to stay on top of the situation and not let it go unresolved.

He said he doesn’t want to see the state make the wrong adjustments as a knee-jerk reaction.

“I want it to be the right thing,” Lucas said.

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