(La Porte County, IN) - Have you ever been cut off or passed by a vehicle waiting until the last possible second to merge lanes in a construction zone? Annoying as it may be, the Indiana Department of Transportation suggests that may be the preferred way to do it. They call it a zipper merge. Instead of merging early, well before a construction lane closure, cars wait until the point of closure and take turns merging.
Recently, a Facebook post explaining the procedure sparked quite a stir in this area. INDOT spokesperson Cassandra Bajek says she was surprised. "People got very animated about it," she says. "I did not anticipate that much blow-back." She says the original Facebook post received over 1,000 comments, most of them negative, and 2,000 shares.
In response, INDOT issued another post this week clarifying that zipper merges will only be used in certain construction zones with plenty of warning signs. "I think people got confused and thought we were going to 100% zipper merges," says Bajek, "but we're only going to use that every once in a while and see how it goes." Bajek says the zipper method is designed for congested high-traffic areas, like bypasses.
According to Bajek, people in this area of the state were by far the most vocal in their opposition. Of all the state's transportation regions, she says only northwest Indiana responded forcefully to the topic.
Bajek agrees that the situation reveals how opinionated local drivers are about traffic issues. Now there are two topics that folks in these parts are passionate about: zipper merges and roundabouts.