Warsaw Traffic Safety Commission Denies 1st Source Bank Entrance

During a lengthy meeting Wednesday, the Warsaw Traffic Safety Commission denied a request by 1st Source Bank for an entrance off Buffalo Street where a new office is currently under construction.
Richard D. Hebard, architect with Hebard & Hebard Architects Inc., and Steven M. Bush, senior project manager with 1st Source Bank, presented the request for the “right-in only” entrance on  Buffalo Street to the customer and employee parking lot at the bank’s future office on Winona Avenue.
Hebard told the commission 1st Source Bank spent a lot of time acquiring a corner parcel at the corner of Buffalo Street and Winona Avenue because of the large traffic volume from Ind. 15N.
Going south on Buffalo Street from downtown Warsaw, he said the first street a driver hits after the railroad tracks is Jefferson Street, a one-way street that goes east that doesn’t provide access to the bank’s new location. The next access point is a narrow, unimproved alley that actually is a parking access for another property owner who backs into that alley, he said.
The acquisition of the corner parcel at Buffalo and Winona provided the bank with an opportunity for access off South Buffalo Street for customers and staff going to the bank without having to loop around the bank’s parcel to get to the bank.
Hebard said the concern posed by the city for the right-in only entrance is that there is a potential for a car to turn onto Buffalo Street going north and cross over the southbound traffic lane to try and turn into the entrance. He said his firm’s civil engineers looked at that and tightened up the design more so it would be more difficult for someone to turn into that entrance if they were going north on Buffalo.
He said anyone who did that anyway would be crossing over the double yellow line and breaking the law.
After some conversation about signage for the access point, Public Works Superintendent and Commission member Jeff Beeler said the design only allows for space for three cars between the entrance and Buffalo Street and Winona intersection.
“Even though traffic isn’t intended to make that left-hand turn, we have seen, especially from across the street going to Family Video, another one of these types of drives, traffic does make these turns to the left when it’s an exit only that does cause traffic issues,” he said.
If a vehicle does travel north on Buffalo Street and turn left into the right-in only entrance to the bank, Beeler said that could back up traffic both on Ind. 15 and Ind. 25 as other vehicles are forced to wait.
Commission member Joel Beam said he was also concerned about the potential back-up problems the entrance would cause and made a motion to deny the request.
The motion to deny was unanimously approved.
In other matters, City Councilmen Mike Klondaris and Ron Shoemaker presented an ordinance to the commission providing for the use of golf carts in the city. Traffic Commission Administrator Kip Shuter said the Commission considered a golf cart ordinance in 2009 when it opposed the idea.
The draft of the proposed ordinance would require golf carts to have a slow-moving vehicle sign, and the operator to have a driver’s license and liability insurance coverage. Operators would have to purchase a golf carts permit for $20 from the city, and driving golf carts on bicycle paths or sidewalks would be prohibited. All traffic laws must be obeyed, and golf carts could not be operated on streets and alleys during low visibility because of weather.
Penalties for violating the ordinance would be $25 for first-time offense, $100 for a second offense and up to $2,500 for multiple offenses in a calendar year.
Commission members expressed concern about enforcement of the ordinance, safety and liability. While other towns like Nappanee and Culver permit golf carts in town limits, Shoemaker and Klondaris did not research what other third-class cities like Warsaw have allowed or not allowed.
Mayor Joe Thallemer suggested Klondaris and Shoemaker explore what other cities like Warsaw are doing regarding golf carts. Klondaris said they would see what Goshen, Elkhart and other similar cities in Indiana were doing, and the issue was tabled.
For the last several months, the Commission has been discussing the intersection of Indiana and Main streets because of the obstructed view caused by vehicles parked in the first couple of parking spots at the southeast corner of the intersection.
Shuter presented the Commission with crash and traffic data he collected for the intersection. In the last two years, ending June 30, he said there have been three crashes at the intersection, but only one was due to view obstruction. It occurred in April. As for traffic data, he said the traffic count was low.
The use of stop signs on the minor street approaches, according to guidelines, are to be considered only on three conditions: vehicle traffic exceeds 6,000 vehicles per day; a restricted view exists; or crash records indicated that three or more crashes have been reported within a 12-month period or that five or more such crashes have been reported within a two-year period. Shuter said only the restricted view condition exists for this intersection.
City Councilman Jerry Frush said there’s been a problem at that intersection for quite a while. He reported Warsaw-Wayne Fire Territory Chief Mike Wilson and Parks Superintendent Larry Plummer have indicated to him they’ve seen a number of potential accidents at the intersection.
“I honestly believe we need a four-way stop there,” Frush said.
Thallemer suggested one or two parking spaces be eliminated first at the southeast corner and see if that helps. Councilman and Commission member Jack Wilhite made a motion to eliminate the two spaces, and his motion was unanimously approved.
The last action taken by the Traffic Commission was the approval of a stop sign at the northwest corner of Flora and Glad streets.