Pharos-Tribune

November 7, 2013

OUR VIEW: Precautions and solutions needed for Hoosier Heartland intersections


Pharos-Tribune

---- — If you’re looking to head to Fort Wayne via the Hoosier Heartland Corridor and you’re using the Burlington Avenue exit, you’re good. Heading to Lafayette via the Ind. 29 exit, you’re good there, too.

You want to head to Fort Wayne from the Ind. 29 exit or looking to travel to Lafayette from Burlington Avenue? You’d better be careful.

The problem with those trips is you don’t have direct access to the corridor. You can get off the corridor at Burlington Avenue, but you can’t get on there. You can get on the corridor at Ind. 29, but you can’t get off there.

You confused yet? If so, you’re not alone. There’s a lot of confusion surrounding the intersections and we’ve reported on the many accidents that prove it.

If you’re heading west on the corridor and want to reach Ind. 29, you’ll need to exit at Burlington. Then, you have to navigate across one northbound lane, a median, two southbound lanes and a right-turn lane to get to the access road that takes you across to Ind. 29.

Right now, the Ind. 29 intersection is under construction. When it’s completed, if you’re looking to turn south onto Ind. 29, you’ll need to navigate an intersection just like at Burlington Avenue. The only difference will be an additional lane to cross because Ind. 29 is a four-lane highway.

Navigating these intersections becomes more dangerous when the sun goes down. We argue, though, it’s at its worst at shift change, when traffic pours in and out of the industrial complex. Not only do Tyson Foods, Pasquale Trucking Co., Hanson Logistics and the other industries to the north of the intersection churn out a lot of traffic from their workforces, they attract a whole lot of semi traffic.

So, what’s the fix here? Well, we aren’t traffic engineers so we don’t claim to have all the answers. Ideally though, the intersections would be tore up and reconfigured to better accommodate traffic flow. That’s not only unrealistic but incredibly expensive and terribly inconvenient.

From our point of view — having driven the intersections several times to get a better understanding of the problems Logansport commuters have been very vocal about — we believe a much more realistic solution would be the addition of traffic lights.

At shift change, traffic backs up on the access roads. With things moving so slowly and so much ground to cover through the intersection, drivers are taking risks they normally wouldn’t just to get through. Traffic lights would produce more controlled and safer traffic flow.

What options should be implemented, if any, will be part of a traffic study that INDOT representatives tell us will be down the road. It could be a few weeks or a month or so, they say. Before jumping into changes, they say, they want to allow motorists to adjust to the new traffic flow and then see what changes are needed.

We know the changes won’t come overnight or even in a timely fashion — we understand these things take time — but we are encouraged to hear that additional precautions are being taken in the immediate future.

INDOT tells us that additional signage on the access roads between the two intersections will be up soon. The “Stop Ahead” signs will help alert drivers unfamiliar with the road that they are on an access road, not an on ramp.

That signage will alleviate part of the problem with the roads’ configuration. The access roads have the look and feel of an on ramp, meaning drivers are hitting the gas in their approach to an easy merge that doesn’t exist.

We’ve already reported on a number of accidents at the Burlington intersection, and we’re afraid we’ll be doing the same thing when the Ind. 29 intersection is completed. We find ourselves holding our breath because we see a major accident coming.

Though we’re encouraged by the impending signage, we urge INDOT officials not to lose sight of the need for long-term solutions.

 

THE ISSUE OUR VIEW