For a Washington man there has been one fight for the last seven years. Derrick Clarke has spent his time talking with government agencies trying to make the intersection at U.S. 50 and SR 257 safer. Clarke most recently called on the new mayor of Washington and the city council to help him in his effort. Clarke told the council he has been working on that intersection for seven years.
“The safety measures I have asked for have not all been put in place,” said Clarke. “I still advocate and raise awareness to make this intersection safer. I am asking for your continued support.”
Clarke began his quest when 2 year-old Noah Briggeman was killed in a crash at the intersection and several of the toddler’s family members were injured. It was one of more than 100 accidents at the crossroads. At least 13 traffic fatalities have occurred there.
“I am looking for a ‘prepare to stop when flashing’ sign,” said Clarke. “If the light is getting ready to change to red there would be flashing lights on both the east and west bound lanes. I have asked INDOT for that, but they have yet to do it. That’s a big thing I would like to see done.”
Clarke’s efforts have had some impact. Rumble strips and warning signs are on the U.S. 50 Bypass as vehicles approach SR 257. Those changes have been noticed.
“I think you have done a great job,” said president of the Washington City Council Allen Brown. “You did manage to get some things in place, rumble strips and warning signs. I commend you for the work you have put in and I know my support is still there.”
The support of the mayor’s office is also there even though there is a new mayor and the intersection sits outside of the city limits.
“He’s been working on this for seven years, ever since we lost that child out there on the bypass,” said Mayor David Rhoads. “He has really been after this project. He has brought a lot of awareness to the public and to INDOT (Indiana Department of Transportation). He’s done a good job.”
Rhoads says he intends to pen a letter of support to INDOT Deputy Commissioner Rusty Fowler backing Clarke’s efforts and continuing support that began under the last administration.
“Mayor [Joe] Wellman has done this in the past and I intend to continue,” said Rhoads. “I’m going to write a letter of support. If we can make a difference out there on the bypass, then it is well worth it.”