The Indiana Department of Transportation wasted no time in beginning to repair a southbound stretch of Interstate 65 south of Seymour near Uniontown at the site of a crash involving three semitrailers and a chemical fire Wednesday.

INDOT crews removed damaged surface pavement from both lanes at the 43-mile-marker overnight Wednesday, milling the roadbed before reopening the interstate to southbound traffic around 9 p.m.

Anderson-based E&B Paving Inc. was on site Thursday afternoon to repave the road with a permanent hot-mix asphalt starting in the left lane, said INDOT spokesman Harry Maginity.

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Once the left lane was repaired, work was to begin on the right lane. Maginity said the work would be wrapped up late Thursday afternoon.

The road construction led southbound traffic to be backed up for about 5 miles, and the Indiana State Police also was called to work a crash that occurred in the backup, said Sgt. Stephen Wheeles, public information officer for the Versailles Post.

Motorists were being advised to take U.S. 31 as an alternate route to avoid the area.

Maginity said he did not know as of Thursday how much the damage would cost or if the state would try to recoup any money by imposing a fine on the semi drivers or their employers.

It’s not unusual for wrecks, especially those involving fires and chemicals, to damage the road surface enough to warrant repaving, Maginity said.

INDOT rushed to get the repairs done because of the inclement winter weather forecast for the area today, he said.

Other options looked at were to mill the surface, leaving it rough, and come back to it in the spring or using a temporary cold mix, which would result in potholes.

By going with the hot-mix asphalt, it fixes the road permanently and makes it safer for the winter, Maginity said.

“We were lucky. We had a hot-mix plant open, and we were able to secure the contractor,” he said. “It was a fantastic turnaround.”

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January Rutherford is a reporter for The (Seymour) Tribune. She can be reached at jrutherford@tribtown.com or 812-523-7069.