ELKHART COUNTY — A roundabout at the intersection of US 6 and SR 13, north of Syracuse, is in the works by the Indiana Department of Transportation. Internal discussions on reducing the number of accidents at this intersection have resulted in the roundabout as the preferred alternative.
The project was recently listed in the draft of the state preservation and local initiated projects for fiscal years 2016-2019. INDOT released the draft Monday, March 27. This project and thousands of other projects in the 291 page document are available online and at open houses in the various district offices.
While the roundabout is the largest project in the area, there are 27 projects proposed for Kosciusko County. The largest projects being a bridge deck overlay near Milford over Turkey Creek and over Tippecanoe River near North Webster. These projects are slated for fiscal year 2019. Other projects include preliminary engineering for bridge construction, pavement restoration, bridge deck overlays and small structure replacements.
The STIP lists the project as an intersection improvement with the roundabout. Safety right of ways are projected to occur in fiscal year 2018, a cost of $550,000 ($250,000 in federal funds and $300,000 in state funds). The actual “safety construction” is projected to use $2,330,800 in federal funds with $100,000 in state funds in fiscal year 2019 and $2,813,500 in fiscal year 2020.
Nichole Hacha-Thomas, media relations director for INDOT Fort Wayne District, noted this project could take place as early as 2019 or as late as 2021, “it depends on if funding comes through in the way it is programmed,” she said.
Hacha-Thomas explained other configurations and options for the intersection, which is now a four-way stop, were reviewed. “The roundabout is the preferred alternative to slow people down. The issue is slow moving traffic off CR 33 and fast moving traffic on SR 13 and US 6.”
She explained the safety construction projects are to reduce the cause of crashes at intersections. The option of signalization at the intersection is still a concern. To cut back crashes, she stated, is to slow down traffic and reduce the conflict point. Installing a signal is not stopping the high speed point. “Stopping traffic on highways opens it up for crashes. You have two relatively high speed roadways. That opens it up for a certain number of crash points.”
The roundabouts, according to Hacha-Thomas, have been widely successful in the number of crash reductions. “You have to give it a chance. It’s not something you often see on a state highway. But it slows down traffic, causes people to pay attention to what is going on.” The roundabout is proposed to be similar to that at SR 19 and SR 119, north of Nappanee, with a wider truck apron to be able to accommodate farm vehicles and wide loads. “We are looking at the design aspect,” Hacha-Thomas stated.
A public hearing is envisioned when the project is closer. Due to the use of federal funds, an environmental impact study will be needed.
According to a release by INDOT, to use federal funds, a transportation project must be listed in a four-year budget document known as the STIP. The document lists construction projects planned from July 2017 through June 2021 and the funds available for transportation projects and programs including highways, transit, bicycles and pedestrians.
The draft is available online at www.in.gov/indot/3132.htm or during an open house from 4 to 7 p.m. Wednesday, April 12, at the INDOT District Office, 5333 Hatfield Road, Fort Wayne. Paper comment forms will be available at that time.
Comments can be submitted through the website, emailed to [email protected] or mailed to Michael McNeil, INDOT STIP director, 100 N. Senate Ave., IGCN 955, Indianapolis, IN 46204.