In July 2016 a
stretch of Ind. 49 north of the U.S. Highway 20 interchange was closed after
the freshly re-paved road surface began weeping a green ooze smelling
strongly of sulfur, so strongly in fact that two Town of Porter
first-responders who breathed the stuff were transported to hospital for
treatment of headache and nausea.
Department of Transportation, along with the Indiana Department of
Environmental Management, promptly responded. Their diagnosis: ground water
was chemically reacting with a sub-base composed of slag--a byproduct of the
steelmaking process--to produce the seepage.
INDOT and IDEM’s
solution, as INDOT spokesman told the Chesterton Tribune on
Wednesday, was to install a drainage system--specifically a “detention
apparatus”--designed to capture and contain the ooze.
Since then the
system has worked largely as it was intended. But the underlying problem
remains: ground water is still reacting with the slag sub-base, seepage is
still being produced, and a rotten-egg stench still lingers in the detention
area. “It was pretty active, even after the cleanup,” Moats said.
INDOT and IDEM have
accordingly made the decision to dig up that portion of Ind. 49, replace the
slag sub-base with one composed of asphalt and gravel, and then re-pave it
once again. “Best just to eliminate the source of the problem,” Moats said.
What that means for
Dunelanders, however, is that Ind. 49 between U.S. 20 and U.S. Highway 12
will be closed to traffic next week, beginning at 6 a.m. Monday, May 15.
The closure will
remain in effect through 5 p.m. Wednesday, May 24.
The work should be
completed before the Memorial Day Weekend, Moats said. But, as he
acknowledged, “It’s a pain. We hate to have to do it. But it needs to be
During the closure,
Ind. 49 north of U.S. 20 will be inaccessible to all traffic. Motorists will
be able to access Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore and the South Shore
commuter line’s Dune Park Station via U.S. 12. They’ll be able to access
Indiana Dunes State Park via Waverly Road and State Park Road.