By Dan Spalding
WARSAW – City officials are seeing more progress in traffic flow over the north-south Norfolk Southern Railroad tracks that pass through the city.
INDOT and Norfolk Southern have been working on various improvements with the goal of synching local traffic signals with railroad crossings when trains pass through.
The project has been underway since 2000, but faced delays and plenty of criticism months ago after three sets of new signals were added for westbound traffic approaching the tracks.
The new traffic signals on Main, Center and Market streets just east of signals along North Detroit Street (SR 15) were intended to prevent traffic building up in that gap area which can create unsafe conditions for oncoming train traffic.
The new signals were activated without being fully synched, officials claimed.
Mayor Joe Thallemer, who expressed frustration a few weeks over the slow pace of construction and the lack of synchronized signalization, said the situation has improved.
City officials met with INDOT representatives on July 15 and came away from the meeting feeling better.
Thallemer said the city asked INDOT to eliminate the staggered delay in some of the signals for westbound traffic.
He said he drove across the tracks three times recently and believes traffic flow has improved.
“These big improvements have made a difference right away, but we’ve certainly got some ways to go,” Thallemer said.
One over-arching goal is to allow traffic along Detroit to continue moving while parallel train traffic passes through. Afterward, an extra effort is being made to allow more time for traffic on Center and other east-west streets to clear out after a train passes through.
Once completed, the city will be able to fine-tune the signalization for specific events and circumstances, said Jeremy Skinner, director of community and economic development.
INDOT issued an update on the project Monday, July 19, saying work on a project could conclude as early as this week.
But INDOT says engineers will continue to “monitor the new traffic signal systems and make additional modifications to improve traffic efficiency over the course of the next several weeks.”