Three-way stop coming for South Street intersection

Friday, March 16, 2012
Currently only eastbound traffic on South Street has to stop at the intersection with Zinc Mill Road on the city's south side, with southbound and westbound traffic on Zinc Mill having the right of way. A proposal before the Greencastle City Council would change the intersection to a three-way stop.

With a major upgrade on the drawing board for South Street in the next couple of years, Greencastle city officials are getting a jump on remedying an existing issue before increased traffic only compounds the problem.

A three-way stop intersection has been suggested for the eastern terminus of South Street, where it intersects with Zinc Mill Road on the city's southeast side.

Currently, a stopsign exists for eastbound traffic on South Street, while Zinc Mill Road traffic presently has the right of way in both directions despite the curve.

Action by the Greencastle City Council is expected to create stopsigns at both ends of the Zinc Mill Road portion of the intersection. On Tuesday night, the Council unanimously approved first reading of Ordinance 2012-3 designating the new stop intersection.

Second and final reading of the ordinance is expected at the Council's April meeting (7 p.m. Tuesday, April 10 at City Hall). After that passage, the three-way stop intersection can be officially created.

City Department of Public Works Superintendent Brad Phillips called the intersection, as presently configured, "a big safety hazard."

"It's an accident waiting to happen," added Phillips, who said he has witnessed three near-misses there while conducting traffic counts in the area recently.

Too often, he said, traffic seems to be rounding the curve on Zinc Mill Road in the wrong lane.

At the scene Thursday afternoon, one driver told the Banner Graphic he regularly encounters vehicles running the stopsign that is already in place at the intersection.

Once the three-way stop is approved, Council members suggested creating pavement markings similar to those in place on Arlington Street at Shadowlawn Avenue to alert drivers of the change.

The intersection change in front of the Armory was initially met with some criticism but has evolved into an easy transition since, Council members agreed.

Councilman Mark Hammer reminded the group that turning the Zinc Mill Road--South Street intersection into a three-way stop was actually considered five or six years ago, but the move was held up after it was assumed the county had jurisdiction on Zinc Mill Road in that area.

It turns out, however, that the city has jurisdiction all the way east to Glen Browning Drive.

Meanwhile, the City of Greencastle is working with Bernardin, Lochmueller Associates engineering, Indianapolis, on design work for the South Street improvement project that may not be ready for construction until late 2014.

The project includes a proposed extension that would allow South Street to intersect with U.S. 231 between Feld's Carpet and Casey's General Store.

The proposed upgrades to South Street will be primarily funded with federal dollars. Planned changes include improving the pavement, adding curbs with a closed storm sewer system and sidewalk construction.

While the project will go all the way to Zinc Mill Road on the east, South Street will also be extended west from East Street to create a new intersection with Bloomington Street.

The project has actually been on the drawing board since 2007 when the first preliminary drawings were rendered.

"We originally thought INDOT (Indiana Department of Transportation) was going to let bids in 2013," Mayor Sue Murray said recently. "Now it looks like 2014."

Project Engineer L. Nick Batta has said construction costs are estimated at $3.2 million with the federal government providing an 80-20 grant (in which Greencastle must provide the 20 percent match).

The overall South Street project, Batta explained, has a couple of simple missions -- to help alleviate congestion along U.S. 231 in and around the Veterans Memorial Highway intersection, and to create a better access to the city's East Side by connecting U.S. 231 with the high school, Ivy Tech and the prime industrial and commercial sides of Greencastle.

South Street will remain a two-lane road, although the pavement will be replaced and sidewalks added on one or both sides of the street.

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  • Has anyone suggested a roundabout? This seems like an ideal use for one.

    -- Posted by elbarto on Sat, Mar 17, 2012, at 1:11 AM
  • The problem with roundabouts are too many people don't know how to use them and it could end up being just as bad as a single stop sign at a 3 way stop.

    -- Posted by hoosierloser on Fri, Mar 23, 2012, at 10:46 AM
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