Chesterton Tribune



Indiana 49 north of US 20 to close as INDOT revisits ooze problem

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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.

The Indiana 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 done.”

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.




Posted 5/11/2017




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