Traffic counts, parking irregularity affect Franklin Street issues

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

East Franklin Street, with its persistent parking and traffic issues, wasn't the only city street to get attention at the May meeting of the Greencastle City Council.

Franklin Street, of course, prompted the most discussion after recent public pleas from citizens to consider a four-way stop at the Vine Street intersection and possibly eliminate parking (potentially east of College Avenue to Indianapolis Road).

Neither of those matters is exactly settled yet, Mayor Bill Dory told the Council when it raised questions about the issues.

However, the prospect of a four-way stop at Franklin and Vine doesn't seem too likely after hearing the results of a traffic count conducted last week and listening to City Attorney Laurie Hardwick's follow-up report.

Mayor Dory noted that a traffic count conducted by Greencastle Department of Public Works Supt. Brad Phillips produced statistics "well below the 6,000 cars (vehicles per day) required for a four-way stop;"

The traffic count was done from 6 a.m. to 4 p.m. on a recent weekday, Dory said, and produced fewer than 2,000 vehicles converging at that somewhat confusing intersection where Franklin traffic stops and Vine Street traffic does not.

"We could be generous and say another thousand more (from 4 p.m. to midnight)," the mayor suggested, "but that's still well below that 6,000 threshold."

Councilman Dave Murray, whose office is on the north side of the courthouse square, said more than pure numbers of vehicles is involved in making that intersection dangerous.

"People come up to that intersection very timidly," he said, suggesting traffic is only likely to increase with businesses like the new Wasser Brewing Co. brew pub scheduled to open in the vicinity.

"And as someone who travels that area quite often," Murray added, "I wouldn't let traffic counts alone dictate matters."

However, Attorney Hardwick explained that the 6,000-vehicle threshold is a state regulation for placement of new stopsigns, as dictated by the Uniform Manual of Traffic Control.

"Even though it's a city street?" Murray asked.

Meanwhile, the question of parking along East Franklin Street that was raised earlier this year is still being studied by department heads, Mayor Dory reported.

"It's a work in progress," Dory responded to a question from Councilman Steve Fields, noting that part of the difficulty in pinning down the problem areas is that parking along that section of Franklin Street is "kind of intermittent."

Discussions about Franklin Street sparked dialogue about other areas of town.

Fourth Ward Councilman Tyler Wade said he has received complaints about cars speeding through the Southwood Village neighborhood near Greencastle Christian Church.

He asked it if were possible to consider lowering the speed limit there from 30 mph.

Again City Attorney Hardwick threw cold water on the issue, reminding the Council of the issue that surfaced on East Seminary Street between Wood and Bloomington streets about 10 years ago. Residents in that area asked for a 20-mph speed limit to slow drivers cutting through their neighborhood. They were denied.

If that were to be allowed, the city attorney said, the Council would have had to address the lowering of speeds on all other city streets as well.

"There are plenty of others," Council President Adam Cohen interjected.

Meanwhile, Councilman Mark Hammer, taking note of a sign along South Jackson Street that warns drivers of their requirement to stop for pedestrians in the crosswalk at Hanna Street, suggested the need for such signage elsewhere in town.

He would like to see similar signage at crosswalks used around the local schools, while Councilman Murray suggested such a move would "be great for traffic around the courthouse too."

That remains another matter to be looked into by city officials.

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  • The City Attorney is a statutory advisor appointed by the mayor. The council may consider the advice of the city attorney but isn't obligated to follow it. The elected officials bear the responsibility. There are an unlimited amount of ordinances in existence across the state that would potentially fail on legal review/challenge. Off topic but I just become amused by the role reversals that are commonly observed in our local governments.

    -- Posted by jorge on Wed, May 18, 2016, at 1:38 AM
  • With issues of traffic in Greencastle, am I the only one who has noticed the "danger zone" in front of Starbucks? I have almost hit more than one pedestrian getting out of their cars or crossing the road between 7:30 am and 8:00 am. If you are coming from the west the sun will almost blind you. The pedestrians are not awake or don't pay attention and just step out in front of you. No parking from Indiana to Vine on Washington St. might eliminate that issue. Also that does not mention how narrow that area is. If you meet a semi or a pickup truck pulling a trailer it is very tight through there.

    -- Posted by whatruthinking2 on Wed, May 18, 2016, at 5:50 AM
  • What's so confusing about the Franklin-Vine intersection? Franklin stops, Vine doesn't! 2-way stops are all over town. What's confusing is Franklin-Indiana, a 3-way stop, and Franklin-Arlington (stop Westbound, no stop Eastbound). And the traffic light at Franklin-Indianapolis road is way out of whack.

    -- Posted by Ben Dover on Wed, May 18, 2016, at 8:45 AM
  • I was a participant in the East Seminary Street discussion ten years ago.

    Basically it centered around emotional thoughts rather than rational thinking.

    I second Dave Murray's statement,"Even though it's a city street? The Greencastle City Council is the governing body for Greencastle's streets (exception 240 and 231 thru town), not the State of Indiana. Start governing City Council!

    To another matter, why does the Greencastle City Mayor (executive branch of government) preside over the meetings of the City Council (legislative branch of government). The President of the City Council should be the presiding officer.

    -- Posted by Lookout on Wed, May 18, 2016, at 10:22 AM
  • Way back in the day, a multi-year wish list plan was introduced. That plan included a bypass around the city to halt all truck traffic around the Courthouse. The ultimate goal to be no vehicular traffic on the square. Fine with me. I try to avoid downtown if I can. Too narrow, rude drivers and pedestrians with no sense rule the area. There are no businesses downtown that I frequent, other than the bank.

    -- Posted by Vernie1 on Wed, May 18, 2016, at 6:18 PM
  • Ben Dover, that's logical thinking if you see a stop sign you stop plain and simple. Apparently there are people that don't get that concept.

    -- Posted by rmyers on Thu, May 19, 2016, at 9:18 AM
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