Fire chiefs say blocking Toll Road
GRANGER – Fire officials are questioning the safety of barriers
recently placed along the Indiana Toll
Road’s emergency turnarounds by the highway’s new private
operator, warning that they could hamper their ability to reach
Maintenance crews for the Indiana Toll
Road’s private operator, ITR
Concession Co., recently placed barriers of sand-filled
barrels along the 157-mile highway’s emergency turnarounds.
Pierce, a spokesman for ITR Concession,
said the barrels were placed along the turnarounds – on the
medians between eastbound and westbound lanes – to prevent
unauthorized vehicles from using them and causing accidents.
Liberty Township Fire Chief Bill Branham, from Porter County,
and other fire chiefs say the barrels could threaten emergency
responders’ ability to reach crash victims, because the
responders will lose precious minutes moving the barrels out of
is of the essence if someone is in a traffic accident with a car
on fire or something like that,” Branham said.
and other fire chiefs said they were not told about the barrels
ahead of time, and only discovered them during the past week.
ITR Concession is a subsidiary of
an Australian-Spanish consortium,
Macquarie-Cintra, that won the
bidding for the road’s 75-year tolling rights with a
$3.8 billion bid in January.
Branham said his department has had no direct contact with
ITR Concession since the foreign
company took over operation of the Toll
Road at the end of June.
Portage Fire Chief Bill Lundy said he heard about the barrels
“through the grapevine.” He has since inspected those in his
territory and said he got the full story only by calling Indiana
Pierce said the center barrels on the turnarounds are filled
with only 100 pounds of sand and can be quickly moved by
Firefighters said it’s not that simple.
example, Hammond Assistant Chief Pat Moore said large fire
trucks on the Toll Road travel in
pairs, with the rear truck slowing traffic so the lead truck has
room to swing out and make the turn into the emergency
the barrels in place, both trucks would have to stop,
firefighters would have to get out, move the barrels, and get
just isn’t so simple or safe,” Moore said.
Pierce said firefighters from LaGrange, St. Joseph and Elkhart
counties were briefed Wednesday on the situation and the new
barriers at Toll Road headquarters in Granger.
said all of the barrels will be replaced by the end of September
with flexible fiberglass poles with reflectors. Emergency
responders will be instructed in how to drive over them.
decision to place those poles was discussed at the Indiana Toll
Road Oversight Board’s meeting Aug. 9, Pierce said.
of the board’s seven members are top aides to Gov. Mitch
Aug. 9 meeting was publicized only by a notice posted on the
door at Toll Road headquarters two days beforehand.
officials have promised to better publicize future meetings.