Truck-train crash in Warsaw prompts changes on Hickory Street

Parking changes are on the way for a two-block area along Hickory Street near Center Street after an improperly parked pickup was struck by a train this week, causing a two-hour traffic bottleneck.

Mayor Joe Thallemer announced changes are coming – including more paint and a sign to highlight nonparking areas along the road – and more changes are likely in a year or two.

Nobody was injured Wednesday after a resident parked his pickup “precariously” close to the railroad tracks that run parallel to the road, Thallemer said.

The crash was minor, but the stopped train blocked traffic in the immediate area for two hours.

The city will repaint parts of the curb next week to make clear where parking is prohibited.

The stretch of road has been torn up much of the summer due to a major railroad project and other construction. Fresh pavement has not been painted to outline parallel parking areas along the street.

The two-block stretch is home to about eight houses and two businesses.

The city is working with Indiana Department of Transportation on ways to improve traffic flow and safety in the area, Thallemer said.

Because of Hickory Street’s proximity to the railroad, INDOT has some authority over the road, Thallemer said.

Initially, INDOT suggested that section of road be closed permanently, but the city objected.

Warsaw Traffic Commission will look at further parking changes  and additional signage.

Other changes will likely include new bumpouts, which is a curb design that clearly sets aside areas for parallel parking.

“All those improvements will make it a lot safer along Hickory Street,” said City Planner Jeremy Skinner. “But it’s going to take a few years to get to that.”

Other changes are expected within two years after new traffic control signals are eventually synched with future improvements at the railroad crossings. Together, those changes will help with traffic flow along a series of east-west crossings, Thallemer said.

When that happens – either in 2020 or 2021 – officials will convert Hickory to one-way traffic, but with a twist.

Motorists will be able to travel north on Hickory north of Center Street and south on Hickory south of Center.

Oddly enough, roughly an hour before Wednesday’s accident,  representatives of the city had been talking with a group promoting rail safety, Thallemer said.

As a result, Warsaw police will be manning several crossings on Tuesday and offering insights to motorists about the dangers of waiting on a traffic light in vehicles idling on railroad tracks.