Westbound traffic on Winona Avenue just before the Norfolk Southern Railroad crossing is causing some headaches for the city, but it does not appear that a solution is within reach.
Warsaw’s Traffic Safety Commission met Tuesday afternoon to discuss, among other things, the center lane at the railroad crossing approach. Although the lane is marked with a solid yellow line and a yellow diagonal line to indicate it is not to be used as a second lane, Warsaw Police Lt. Kip Shuter said motorists ignore it and it causes some problems.
“It really is a mess, in particular when there is a train,” said commission member Greg Schroeder. “I’m at a loss to offer a suggestion how fix it, but I will support your contingent. It’s a really big problem.”
The problem is that when a train is present, motorists are using what is supposed to be a center turn lane as a through lane. Those who drive in the correct travel lane and want to merge to the center lane on the west side of the tracks to continue straight on Winona Avenue are often not able to do so because of those improperly using the turn lane.
And while commission member Dan Robinson agreed that it is a problem, he also noted, “When there’s a train it’s total gridlock … the only way these people can get anywhere is to go down that lane. I really think that this is one of those situations that’s never going to be perfect.”
Mayor Joe Thallemer said the only way to solve the problem would be to add a raised island barrier in the center lane, but agreed it would not be an ideal situation or even a situation the city wanted to deal with. However, he encouraged the city to continue to clearly mark the lane as a turn only lane and police it.
Also discussed was the intersection of Center Street Extended and Capital Drive. The problem area exists for traffic that is eastbound on Center Street Extended approaching U.S. 30. The existing stop sign is placed at the east side of the entrance to the Center Center plaza and sets just far enough back that it makes it difficult for motorists to gauge the intent of those coming either from or across U.S. 30.
The intersection has been looked at by the commission in the past, but the real issue lies with the entrance to Center Center plaza and, thus far, the property owner has not been willing to consider relocating the entrance. Following discussions, the traffic commission agreed to move the stop sign to the west side of the Center Center access and install signs ordering motorists not to block the drive.
In a final order of business, the commission agreed to ask the city to amend an ordinance identifying Center Street, a portion of Hepler Drive and Zimmer Lane as a designated truck route. The route is already established but not reflected in the city’s ordinance.