Warsaw’s Traffic Safety Commission has reviewed traffic and crash data for the Indiana and Main streets intersection over the last year in response to a request to establish a four-way stop there.
Last fall, the city added additional parking spaces around downtown Warsaw. Among the spaces added were several along the south side of Main Street from Indiana to High Street. Since then, visibility problems and “near misses” have been reported for motorists northbound on Indiana Street attempting to cross or turn westbound onto Main Street.
The request for the stop sign was made by last month by Warsaw Common Councilman Jerry Frush, who is also active with the Historical Society Museum that is located at the intersection. In response to his request, Warsaw Police Department Lt. Kip Shuter pulled police report data showing there have been only two minor accidents at the intersection, one occurring in April and one in June of this year.
Further, Lt. Shuter provided traffic counts at various times of the day at the intersection. He said the Federal Highway Administration has set guidelines for establishing traffic controls whether it be signs or traffic lights. By those guidelines, at least 300 vehicles per hour would need to access the intersection to qualify for a stop sign.
“From noon to 1 p.m. it exceeds 300 cars an hour, but at all other times it’s less than that,” explained Shuter.
Additionally, police would have to have documented three or more crashes at the intersection over a 12 month period that could have been prevented with a stop sign.
Warsaw Common Councilman and WTC member Mike Klondaris said, “Granted the guidelines aren’t met, but that intersection is dangerous for traffic.”
By putting in a four-way stop at Main and Indiana streets, Shuter noted that 65 percent of the traffic would be hindered vs. 35 percent that use Indiana Street. “Also, with the fire department right there, stopping would hinder fire trucks,” he added.
Mayor Joe Thallemer contributed, “I suggest taking out a couple (parking) spaces to begin with. We have to be very sure before you put up a stop sign.” Additionally, city street superintendent Jeff Beeler said, since the intersection does not meet the federal guidelines, placing a stop sign could become a legal issue that would not stand up in court.
After some additional discussion on lowering the speed limit from 30 mph down to 25 mph, the WTC members unanimously agreed to only remove at least one parking space at the intersection to see if that improves visibility. The matter will be reviewed next year.
In another matter, the city established a 25 mph speed limit along Parent Drive. Jaylnn Street in Warsaw turns into Parent Drive at the curve behind Walmart and is the main entrance to a senior housing community. Eventually, Parent Drive will extend to Petro Drive and the new Tippy Downs residential community to the north.
Some concern over vehicles continuing to block intersections at Center and Market streets was also raised. The city has already erected signs warning motorists against stopping in the intersection on red lights or when trains are passing. The matter will continue to be monitored.