Road Segments Receive Redesign to Improve Safety

UPDATED 7/7/16: Construction on this project will begin on Monday, July 11th. At the start of construction, the west bound lanes will be closed. Temporary pavement markings will be placed on the existing east bound lanes to allow for one lane of traffic in each direction, and traffic will be shifted. Work on the west bound lanes is anticipated to take one month to complete. After work is completed on the west bound lanes, traffic will be switched over to the newly-completed west bound lanes (again one lane of traffic in each direction) and the east bound lanes will be closed while work is completed. The entire project is estimated to be complete by October 1. All cross streets are anticipated to remain open throughout the projects duration.

According to the Kentuckiana Regional Planning and Development Agency (KIPDA), two street segments (centered around one intersection) in the City of New Albany have been ranked among the highest prone to accidents in southern Indiana.  

THE INTERSECTION: SPRING STREET & SILVER STREET

One segment of Spring Street, from Woodrow Avenue to Silver Street, ranked as high as #2 on KIPDA’s “High Crash Segments" study.  Another nearby segment, Spring Street (from Silver Street to Vincennes), came in at #17 on the “High Crash Segment” rating.  Over a 5 year period, over 100 crashes were recorded along this stretch of roadway, with most accidents occurring around the intersection at Silver and Spring Street.  It was determined that most of the crashes were attributed to the lack of exclusive left turn lanes on Spring Street.  

 THE CURRENT CONFIGURATION OF THE SPRING STREET & SILVER STREET INTERSECTION (NOTE THE SHARED LEFT-TURN LANES ALONG SPRING STREET).

THE CURRENT CONFIGURATION OF THE SPRING STREET & SILVER STREET INTERSECTION (NOTE THE SHARED LEFT-TURN LANES ALONG SPRING STREET).

With no exclusive left turn lane, drivers are forced to slow (or even stop), sometimes unexpectedly, to turn out of the inside through lane.  When these drivers come to a halt unexpectedly, trailing motorists are either forced to try to stop their vehicle or abruptly switch lanes.  These types of situations can become hazardous quickly, usually lead to either a rear-end collision or a side-swipe/roadway runoff scenario.  

THE GOALS

The city focused on 4 main goals for this roadway improvement project:
1.    Reduce the high number of crashes that occur at the Spring/Silver intersection
2.   Reduce traffic speed
3.   Improve safety for pedestrians and bicyclists
4.   Retain capacity for the existing traffic counts, but control substantial traffic increases

The city applied for and received special federal Highway Safety Improvement Program grant money through the Indiana Department of Transportation (INDOT) to help correct these areas and other roadway segments.  The grants will provide and pay for 90% of the cost for the improvements, allowing the city to improve the safety for motorists and pedestrians along these segments at a fraction of the total cost.

THE COMING IMPROVEMENTS

 PROPOSED REDESIGN FOR THE SPRING AND SILVER INTERSECTION.

PROPOSED REDESIGN FOR THE SPRING AND SILVER INTERSECTION.

 PROPOSED REDESIGN FOR THE SPRING STREET & THOMAS STREET INTERSECTION, WHICH LEADS UP TO THE SPRING & SILVER INTERSECTION.

PROPOSED REDESIGN FOR THE SPRING STREET & THOMAS STREET INTERSECTION, WHICH LEADS UP TO THE SPRING & SILVER INTERSECTION.

1.    Reduce the high number of crashes that occur at the Spring/Silver intersection
In order to achieve this, exclusive left turn lanes will be added with a new signal.  This is a crucial component to improving the safety of this corridor and reducing the high number of crashes, and should reduce the number of rear-end and side-swipe accidents.  The new signal will also be able to determine if there are longer queue lines for certain lanes, and then adjust the timing of its signal to help get drivers to their destinations quicker.

2.    Reduce traffic speed
This project will reduce both the number of traveling lanes and the lane-width, both effective features that lead to reduced traffic speed.

3.    Improve safety for pedestrians and bicyclists
The current roadway also offers little support for alternative modes of transportation (no bike lanes, limited pedestrian support, etc.).  The city also wished to address these concerns with this safety project.  These improvements will bring bike lanes to the area, with green highlighting in certain areas to improve visibility.  New ADA-accessible ramps will be installed throughout the project area, and the new signal includes pedestrian indicators, making it easier and safer to travel on foot or bike.

4.    Retain capacity for the existing traffic counts, but control substantial traffic increases
The proposed roadway will accommodate current traffic counts, including both truck and passenger vehicle traffic.  However, with the bridges project nearing completion, and New Albany having the only un-tolled bridge, there is a growing concern that New Albany streets will be used as a “pass-through” for those wishing to avoid the toll.  This project will control substantial traffic increases in an effort to head-off this kind of response to the bridges project.

The state of Indiana is scheduled to approve construction of this project in the Spring of 2016.