Valpo studying Harmel Dr. signal activation

2013-06-15T00:00:00Z Valpo studying Harmel Dr. signal activationPhil Wieland phil.wieland@nwi.com, (219) 548-4352 nwitimes.com

VALPARAISO | After hearing requests from Streamwood Subdivision residents for years to activate the traffic signal at Harmel Drive and LaPorte Avenue, the city is having a study done of the proposal.

City Engineering Director Tim Burkman told the city's Traffic and Safety Committee on Tuesday he had gotten a quote from DLZ to analyze the traffic and come up with a recommendation. Cost of the analysis will be $4,250, but it won't start until the city provides the traffic counts.

Burkman said the counting equipment already is installed and will be on site for a week. Turning movement counts must also be done by hand over a 12-hour period. The counting should be completed in the next week or so, and the data will be given to DLZ.

DLZ is expected to have its recommendations by the end of July.

The existing signal was installed for the ambulance station at the southwest corner of the intersection. The flashing signal can be activated by a switch at the station whenever an ambulance needs to get onto LaPorte for an emergency, but Burkman said he's never seen it used.

Burkman said the issue came up again recently when Streamwood residents were concerned about a request before the city's Board of Zoning Appeals for a drive-through window at a restaurant on the southeast corner of the intersection. The concern is over the impact of more traffic on people trying to make left turns onto busy LaPorte.

"We have to consider the impact of the red light on LaPorte traffic," Burkman said. "It could send surges of traffic into the roundabout making it more difficult for vehicles to merge. DLZ will see if the signal is warranted under any of the provisions in the traffic manual and what the impact will be on the roundabout and the signals to the east on LaPorte."

If activating the signal is warranted, Burkman said traffic detector loops would have to be installed in all four directions. The city is spending $12,480 for loops in two directions at Calumet and Evans Avenues, so the cost would be about twice as much at Harmel/LaPorte.

He said other outlets for Streamwood traffic have been considered, including creating a frontage road to the east on the south side of LaPorte to the nearest fully operating signal, but the change in elevation would make that difficult.

The city also has talked about a road south of Streamwood between Sturdy and Silhavy Roads, but Burkman said, rather than solving the problem, that would just move the problem south.

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