Street Panel Hears Safety Concerns From Residents

Citizens’ concerns about several intersections in Warsaw were three of the four items addressed at the Traffic Safety Commission Wednesday, with the fourth being a new access road to Harrison Elementary.
The intersections discussed included Main at Indiana, Detroit at Pope and Main at Bronson. No decisions were made, but the Commission agreed to let Warsaw Police Dept. Lt. Kip Shuter gather more information on the intersections for further discussion.
Shuter was not at Wednesday’s meeting.
On the Main and Indiana streets intersection, Commission member Steve Foster said there is some concern that if a person is traveling northbound on Indiana and looking off to the east on Main Street, if a vehicle is parked in the very first parking spot along Main across the street from the Zimmer Biomet building, it is difficult to see the traffic headed west.
Dana Hewitt, traffic control, took some photographs for the Traffic Commission to see the issue at hand. They showed how a jeep parked in that very first parking spot clearly blocks the view of traffic and a driver going north on Indiana has to inch their way out into the intersection to see. Going west on Main approaching Indiana, the photos show how a vehicle going north on Indiana has to be almost half way into the street before the westbound Main Street traffic can see it. Hewitt said he slowed down in order to take the photos, but if a driver is going the required speed limit, “you’ll approach that intersection a lot quicker.”
City Councilwoman Cindy Dobbins asked if at one time they discussed removing that first parking space. WPD Lt. Joel Beam said he didn’t remember what became of that discussion but they did discuss it. She asked Hewitt if that would even help. He said the second space also blocks the view of traffic, and those spaces also are unlimited unrestricted parking.
After Commission member Connie Street Fribley asked if there’s been any accidents at that intersection, she was told there’s been two since 2014.
Hewitt commented unlimited unrestricted parking spaces are “pretty premium” downtown and if you start taking them away, people will notice.
Fribley inquired if the intersection should be a four-way stop, but Foster said, “Historically, you wouldn’t make that a four-way stop in terms of the volume of the traffic that you have on Main compared to the volume of traffic you have on Indiana. We wouldn’t want to stop all this traffic on Main Street for the few cars we have on Indiana.”
City Planner Jeremy Skinner agreed that the volume on Indiana didn’t warrant a four-way stop, but the number of accidents at the intersection could be an influence on the decision making. He said there could be another dozen intersections in the city similar to this one and drivers need to be safe and responsible at them.
Mayor Joe Thallemer asked if those parking spaces in question along Main were added when the downtown was realigned, and Assistant Planner Tim Dombrosky said they were. Thallemer said it’s only been two years since those spaces were added and he wasn’t opposed to taking them out if the spaces were the cause for the two accidents since then. He said the city wants as many parking spaces as it can get but not at the cost of safety.
The Commission decided to have Shuter collect more information on the intersection.
At the intersection of Detroit at Pope, Foster said someone suggested a three-way stop. The intersection is by Warsaw Cut Glass.
Thallemer said it is hard to make a left turn from South Detroit onto Pope, but board members agreed a three-way stop could back up traffic on Ind. 15 (Detroit) and Ind. 25. Skinner said another option that could be considered is “what traffic you’re stopping.”
Thallemer said he’d like to see the traffic data on the intersection, and that when school’s in session that’s when there’s an issue there.
Skinner said if they had an engineer look at the intersection, the engineer may come up with a better solution than a three-way stop.
After further discussion, the Commission again decided to let Shuter collect more data on the intersection including a traffic count.
Because of two crashes over two years that ended with vehicles in a home or running into a utility pole on the southwest corner, the Commission also was asked to consider a four-way stop at Main and Bronson.
The board was not sure why those crashes took place as there’s no parking along there and didn’t appear to be any problems with line of sight.
Thallemer said it would be interesting to see crash data on other cross streets along Main Street to see if anything sets the Bronson Street intersection apart.
Deciding more information was needed, the board decided to have Shuter collect the data like line of sight and pictures of the intersection.
The board then turned its attention to a new access road from Harrison Elementary School south to Glad Street.
Skinner said the new access road would give the school a much-needed second access that is not directly onto Husky Trail.
Warsaw Community Schools Director of Buildings and Grounds Dirk Felger said he was presenting the new access road to the school board this month for its approval. If the board approves it, Felger said the road would be constructed this year before the start of the school year.
Felger also said the school is trying to keep bus and parent pick-up separate.
Construction work on Husky Trail and the Mariner’s Drive roundabout will begin in 2017 by the city.
With the new access road, Skinner said the improvements to traffic on Mariner’s Drive will be like night and day.
Thallemer said, “The school wanted that second (access), and to dump them out on Husky Trail continued to be a safety issue. And having the second exit out to Husky Trail at the roundabout makes perfect sense.”
Thallemer also said the school corporation has been fabulous to work with on all the road projects out there.
The Commission was not required to take any action on the new access road.