In the summer of 2000, Beulah Stoker, president of the Southeast Neighborhood Association requested a turn arrow at the intersection of Bluffton and Lower Huntington Roads. Beulah, as well as other members of the association were concerned that the increased traffic in the Waynedale area was creating a dangerous traffic situation at that intersection. During periods of heavy traffic, drivers would sometimes have to wait through more than one signal cycle. There was also a problem with visibility due to lane placement. A person waiting to make a left hand turn off of Bluffton Road would have a problem of not being able to see the opposing through traffic. If they were in the left-hand turn lane they would inch their way into the intersection, hoping for a clear spot to make their left hand turn.
The Waynedale News talked to Steve Davis of traffic engineering to find out the outcome of the studies that have been done at this intersection. The first survey was done on July 18th 2000. Steve is a Purdue Engineer, with a BS in Civil Engineering and has his PE (Professional Engineering license). He has been with traffic engineering for 29 years.
Steve explained that the initial study did not warrant a turn arrow at the Bluffton Road/Lower Huntington Road intersection. Measuring the density of traffic at the given intersection made the determination. The numbers generated are put into a formula and the traffic density must stay at a given magnitude for a four-hour period. The density at this particular intersection was only heavy over a two-hour period. Those findings were passed on to the neighborhood associations. In addition to the study, the accident incident rate had not been high enough at this intersection to promote concern.
The neighborhood associations asked that another study be done at a time of year when school is in session. The addition of school buses and commuters increases during the school year.
Another study was done in April of 2001. The density did prove to be higher, but still fell short of the four-hour traffic density limit. Traffic engineering stated that the highest volume of traffic was in the westbound lane of Lower Huntington Road trying to turn south and the southbound lane of Bluffton Road turning east. Even though the traffic did not merit the addition of a turn arrow, traffic engineering felt that the lane placement could be changed to better facilitate the traffic trying to turn left through this intersection.
Even though the new study did not warrant a signal change, the community still wants a turn arrow. They passed a petition, gathered 1139 signatures in favor of turn arrows, and presented it to traffic engineering. This issue continues to surface at the neighborhood meetings, and Steve Davis said that another study is being considered. The Metro Planning Agency would perform the new study, which is independent of the traffic-engineering department.
The Waynedale News talked to Gina Kostoff, the neighborhood specialist for the Southwest area. Gina is the new quadrant representative, taking over for Deb Moroney. She told us that she was working with traffic engineering as well as the Mayor and Councilman Hayhurst and the neighborhood associations on this issue. She mentioned that those concerned should show up at the next Southwest Neighborhood Association meeting at the Community Center, on Monday, Jan 21st, 6:30pm. The Waynedale News asked Steve Davis, "Why not just add a turn signal to the intersection, if that is what the community wants? Steve explained that on secondary roads within the neighborhoods that is sometimes what they do. An example would be Belle Vista Blvd, where two stop signs are used as a traffic calming policy. Main arteries such as Bluffton Road pose a different problem. Changes are governed by formulas because an improper turn arrow could actually slow the flow of through traffic, creating longer delays for the majority of drivers. There are exceptions to the formula solutions, and traffic engineers try to look at all the options available.
Whatever the decision, the Waynedale area has seen great improvement in the Bluffton/Lower Huntington Roads over the past few years. It is great seeing so many people working toward positive solutions in our area.