As part of the reconstruction of State Road 56 project, two four-way stop areas will be added along East Hackberry Street — one at the intersection with Kimball Blvd. and one at Pansy Street.
These will be constructed and in force by Dec. 17, according to INDOT Media Representative Harry Maginity,
The four-way stops will be stopping traffic east and westbound on State Road 56 until the stoplights are put in place in Spring 2016.
Wal-Mart requested two stoplights be put in place during the road reconstruction project.
As a result of two stoplights located within 800 feet, INDOT placed a median between the two entrances to Wal-Mart.
The median keeps traffic from turning into business located on the East side, like WSLM and Paynter’s Machine Works as well as a church located on Coral Street.
Business owners met with INDOT officials in October to determine if the median can be removed.
“None of the businesses along here were informed this was being installed,” said Becky White, WSLM owner. “One day we could drive into work the same way we’ve all done for years and the next day this was here.”
INDOT acknowledged the median was not discussed with local property owners but said it was a safety requirement.
“This prevents traffic from turning into my business and has confused people completely,” said White. “They expect those coming to any of the businesses here to drive east to Jim Day Road and turn around and drive back. This is an inconvenience to my guests and employees as well as to those doing business with others along this part of Hackberry Street. It’s an extra couple of minutes of drive time. Those coming from the East can turn into our locations without any trouble.”
Bill Paynter of Paynter Machine Works receives deliveries from semi-trucks that are having trouble maneuvering the new traffic configuration too.
“I have several deliveries a week,” he said. “How are they going to get in here and get back out.”
This creates a further traffic issue since the truck bypass was created for truck traffic to use. Now any semi-trailers exiting these businesses cannot turn left as they used to and will need to proceed towards Salem to find a place to turn around and then proceed back west in order to take the bypass or go back to I-65 at Scottsburg.
INDOT explained to White that U-turns were legal and traffic driving east could make a U-turn to come back to the west. Also, U-turns would be legal for traffic driving westbound and then turning around by Kimball Blvd. to go back east.
“I had always thought U-turns were illegal,” said White. “I’ve been making U-turns by Pansy Street and have been getting hand gestures from drivers who don’t seem to think I should be doing that. But it’s exactly what I’ve been told to do. I can’t come to work like I have for years. Also there isn’t enough room to make a U-turn in either direction.”
Maginity admitted that construction engineers agree that there isn’t room to make the U-turn and that there has to be room to do that.
According to Maginity, Temple and Temple, who took on the construction project as well as the prep-work on the Wal-Mart project and the paving of the roads, will be adding room near Kimball Blvd. and Pansy Street in the next few weeks to establish a U-turn lane.
The project was deemed finished in late October although there was still work being completed finished.
According to the Indiana Department of Transportation, Temple and Temple, the state’s contractor for the $4.2 million State Road 56 reconstruction project from High Street to Heritage Chapel Road completed paving operations on Monday, October 26.
Barricades were pulled back, all lanes were opened and traffic flow was normalized. Temple & Temple continued grading slopes and worked in shoulder areas.
Since the project was “completed” road striping was completed, guardrails were put up at three locations along the reconstruction area, a few unfinished driveways were paved and retaining walls were finished out. The remaining work will be done as weather permits.
This week turning arrows were adhered to the road surface and work began on the stop sign placement.