City officials in Chesterton, Indiana, say that they have partnered with the Indiana Department of Transportation (INDOT) to reduce the speed limit for trucks in order to protect the “heart of the town” from “semi-tractor trailers barreling through at 60 miles per hour or better.”
In a Tuesday news release, the Town of Chesterton announced that INDOT has agreed to “lower the speed limit for trucks—and for trucks only—from 50 miles per hour to 40 mph along Ind. 49 in the Town of Chesterton.“
City officials say that INDOT will lower the speed limit “as soon as possible. As soon as their schedule permits.”
Chesterton Police Chief Tim Richardson explained the reasoning for lowering the speed limit for trucks only: “The sheer dynamics of Ind. 49 in Chesterton and the way you’re coming over hills and around curves, lowering the speed limit to 40 is not meant to punish the truckers, because they’re very important and vital to our society today. But by the sheer dynamics, it gives them more stopping distance at traffic lights and we hope that greatly improves safety. We didn’t want to punish motorists, Chesterton residents and people passing through, by making them do 40. The dynamic really affects the truckers because of their weight and their stopping distances.”
“If the speed for trucks is 50, they’re doing 58, and that’s way too fast to to stop in time when they’re coming over the overpass or around those curves,” Richardson added. “If it says 40, we hope they stay between 40 and 46 or 47 and then they’ll have the right stopping distance.”
Officials say that the push for the truck speed limit change was brought about by a recent accident involving a truck.
“Until it could almost be said, now, that Ind. 49 really IS the heart of the town, pierced though it is—hundreds and hundreds of times a day—by semi-tractor trailers barreling through at 60 miles per hour or better. Not just by semis, of course, but by cars, SUVs, minivans, and pickups. It’s the semis, however, which cause the most damage—both to other passenger vehicles and to life and limb—when a trucker makes a mistake: rear-ends someone, sideswipes someone, or T-bones someone in an intersection. We know that. We all know that. And from time to time a trucker reminds us anyway by playing red-light roulette. Traffic safety has been foremost on Dunelanders’ minds since retired CHS swim coach Kevin Kinel was grievously injured by a semi running a red light on May 8,” the City of Chesterton said.
Town officials also plan to construct three turnaround cross-over culverts in the median between East Porter Ave. and the Indiana Toll Road to give local police a convenient place to stage and conduct stationary patrol to “monitor traffic lights and the speed and the truck lane.