VALPARAISO | The flashing signal at LaPorte Avenue and Harmel Drive will be changed to a fully operational one during the first quarter of 2014.
Residents of the Streamwood subdivision have long requested the change, especially since construction of the roundabout at LaPorte, Lincolnway and Sturdy Road, which made it more difficult to make left turns because of the more continuous flow of traffic.
City Engineering Director Tim Burkman told the city's Traffic and Safety Committee on Tuesday that a study by the DLZ engineering firm showed the intersection "just barely" meets two of the eight possible requirements for installing a signal under the Indiana Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices.
The study was completed in August, and the city has been in discussions with the Indiana Department of Transportation about interconnecting all the signals on LaPorte from the roundabout to Eastport Centre Drive. The last three are owned by INDOT, which has agreed to change the equipment to be in sync with the city's signals west of the Ind. 49 interchange.
In a letter to Streamwood resident John Schnurlein, Burkman said, "It should be noted the signal (at Harmel) was never intended to be a fully functioning signal, and, as a result, there are several modifications that must be designed and implemented for it to be activated. It's not a simple 'flip of the switch.'"
The signal is designed to be activated only when an ambulance stationed at the corner needs to exit. The station can stop traffic for the ambulance, and then the signal returns to flashing mode. Loop detectors have to be installed along with conduits, wiring and the radio interconnect system with the other signals.
"We're currently designing these elements while coordinating with INDOT for the signal work that must occur on their side of Silhavy Road," Burkman wrote Schnurlein. "The city's Redevelopment Commission budgeted the estimated $68,000 it will take to complete these efforts in next year's budget."
The city also is in the process of selecting a consultant to study the Silhavy/LaPorte intersection to recommend the best solution for moving traffic efficiently, including a roundabout.
If a roundabout is the preferred solution, it wouldn't be built for at least two or three years and the new signals at that intersection could be reused elsewhere, Burkman said.