VALPARAISO | The annual list of the the 10 intersections with the most accidents is out, and while many names have been on the list before, several are on the city's radar for improvements.
Topping the list again was Ind. 49 and LaPorte Avenue, where there were 61 accidents in 2013 — an increase of eight from the past two years. City Engineering Director Tim Burkman said the biggest problem continues to be southbound traffic exiting west onto LaPorte as drivers look east for oncoming traffic and rear-end the vehicle in front of them.
"The state, in response, has installed the signal on the west side of the interchange, but people are still looking for traffic and hitting the car in front of them," Burkman said.
The city's Traffic and Safety Committee talked this week about extending the right lane from the intersection ramp all the way to Silhavy Road to provide more time for drivers to weave into their desired lanes. Burkman said that might not help because much of the traffic wants to get to the far left lane to turn left at Silhavy to go to the shopping centers.
"We've talked about the possibility of doing roundabouts on each side of Ind. 49 like we have on the bridge on County Road 400 North over Ind. 49," he said. "That's what is being recommended with the 49 corridor study."
The corridor study by Kendig Keast Collaborative and American StructurePoint is nearly complete. Burkman said the consultants looked at the accidents, and the roundabouts were a "broad brush" recommendation. It would need further study and cooperation from the Indiana Department of Transportation.
Five intersections on U.S. 30 made the list: Washington Street/Ind. 2, Strongbow Centre Drive, Lincolnway/Sturdy Road, Industrial Drive and Horseprairie Avenue. Of those, the Industrial Drive intersection at the entrance to the Montdale Industrial Park is the only newcomer, finishing eighth with 14 accidents.
"We will look to see why that was the case," Burkman said of the Industrial Drive appearance on the list. "As you come west into the city, it is the first signal you hit. Seven of the accidents were rear-end collisions, so we will see if advanced warning signs would help.
"The other U.S. 30 intersections are being worked on as part of the U.S. 30 corridor study, and we will be gathering more information on those when the snow clears," he said.
Silhavy Road and Evans Avenue is another debuting on the list with 16 accidents. Burkman said the city had planned to revamp the intersection a few years ago but didn't have the funds. It now is slated for federal funding help and could be rebuilt in 2016. Work would include new drainage and moving the utility pole at the southwest corner.
"This list has to be qualified by saying these are the highest volume intersections," Burkman said. "We should be talking about accidents per volume of traffic to be fair, but this gives us a pulse on where the accidents are occurring."