The Indiana Department of Transportation Tuesday devoted a portion of its website to explain J-turns. Meanwhile, proposals for the new type of intersection are still raising concerns.
The J-turn makes drivers turn right to merge into traffic, then merge left into a J-shaped lane and make a U-turn – instead of proceeding directly across oncoming lanes of traffic.
Miami County, the Marshall County Town of Argos and the City of Logansport are among the most recent to publicly debate J-turn proposals. In Miami County, officials are instead pushing for conventional interchanges at two busy U.S. 31 intersections.
Miami County’s Economic Development Authority is concerned with how trucks transporting items such as jet fuel to the nearby Grissom air base could navigate a J-turn effectively and safely.
Executive Director Jim Tidd says his department wants to see a more permanent solution upfront.
“All we’re saying is let’s do it right first,” Tidd says. “Let’s take a more long-term approach with interchanges, prioritize where those interchanges are most needed and then work together as highway funds become available.”
The authority sent the same sentiment in a letter to Governor Eric Holcomb’s office earlier this month.
Tidd says the county wants to continue working with INDOT to find a solution.
INDOT is set to hold public meetings on potential fixes later this year. The department’s new page features a video showing how large vehicles move through a J-turn.
INDOT spokeswoman Nichole Thomas says traffic engineers have determined J-turns are the best way to address the current safety issues there – but she says that plan could change down the road.
“In the future, if and when we would determine that interchanges are the preferable solution, then we can move in that direction,” Thomas says. “But, having said that, INDOT feels that this is the right solution at the right time, right now.”
Thomas says what INDOT calls the J-turn’s proven safety improvements – outlined on its website -- would fix the dangerous intersections in a timely manner if the model is approved along U.S. 31.
INDOT reports that since two J-turns were installed in Newton and Spencer County, no serious injuries or fatal crashes have occurred.