Area residents are asking the Indiana Department of Transportation to take a proposed project even further to increase safety at the intersection of Ind. 26 and Park Road, where an uptick in traffic has led to 22 crashes in three years.
INDOT held a public hearing Thursday evening at South Creek Church of God to discuss plans to install a traffic light at the intersection. The project also calls for putting in left turn lanes on all approaches, as well as a right-turn lane on the east leg of Ind. 26 to turn north onto Park Road.
Around a dozen residents who live near the intersection told INDOT officials they supported the changes, but asked for even more to be done to reduce crashes there.
Justin Myers, who lives on Park Road, asked that the speed limit on Ind. 26 be reduced to 45 mph from Ind. 931 to Dixon Road to make is safer for those who live along that stretch of highway. The speed limit is currently 55 mph.
He also requested the passing zone currently in place on that same stretch of road be removed.
Jennifer Osborne, who lives across the street from the Ivy Hills housing addition located on Ind. 26 near the intersection, agreed. She said there have been so many accidents around the intersection and subdivision that she doesn’t feel safe.
“It’s extremely dangerous,” Osborne said. “It’s gotten to the point where we don’t let our kids play outside in the front yard anymore. It’s very important to focus on the speed and taking out the passing zone.”
One resident asked the speed limit be reduced even more to 30 mph hour from Ind. 931 to Dixon Road.
Paul Rogers, who lives on Ind. 26, just five houses down from Park Road intersection, asked if the state could put in a turn lane for the houses along Ind. 26 so they could get off the highway while turning into their driveways.
“I’m thankful there’s a church right there at the intersection, because I’m praying to God every time that a Mac truck doesn’t come up and slam me from the backside,” he said.
One resident also suggested putting up street lights at all four corners of the intersection since it’s difficult to see there at night. The proposed project right now does not include permanent lighting.
Other residents suggested installing a camera at the intersection to catch speeders and having a stronger law enforcement presence on the road to deter unsafe driving.
Tarita Brown told INDOT she didn’t know why it’s taken so long for the intersection to be upgraded to make is safer. She said she was involved in a crash there in October 2018 that put her in the hospital for 45 days after she was life-lined from the scene to Indianapolis.
“I am a victim of this intersection,” Brown said. “Something needs to be done as soon as possible … I’m still trying to figure out why it took 22 accidents in three years to get to this point. There are lots of people who have suffered because of that.”
She also suggested putting in rumble strips approaching the intersection to let people know to slow down to be on the lookout for cross traffic.
Dick Holder said he’s lived near intersection for 57 years, and there’s no doubt it’s been a hotspot for serious accidents.
“I’ve scrapped many people out of their cars,” he said. “Many people have been killed at that intersection. There’s absolutely no doubt that this needs to be done.”
Rickie Clark, INDOT’s manager of public involvement who led the hearing, said all the public comments made Thursday will be put into INDOT’s official record and taken into consideration as the project moves forward.
“The reoccurring theme here is speed, speed, speed,” Clark told the crowd. “We’re certainly receiving that message loud and clear this evening.”
The proposed changes to the intersection come after INDOT officials say the area has seen an 11% increase in traffic flow that has led to an alarming uptick in crashes.
Construction on the $2 million project is anticipated to start next year and require INDOT to acquire around 0.7 acres of permanent new right-of-way, in addition to some temporary right-of-way needed during construction.
The project will extend along Park Road approximately 500 feet north and south of the center of Ind. 26. The project extends approximately 1,000 feet east and west of the intersection on Ind. 26.
INDOT said at this time, there is no plan to close Ind. 26 during construction, and traffic will be allowed to flow during all phases of the project. Access to all properties will be available during construction.