VALPARAISO | A request to add a traffic signal at Silhavy Road and Chicago Street will be one of the issues the city looks at as part of the improvements to Silhavy between LaPorte Avenue and Evans Avenue.
Valparaiso's Traffic and Safety Committee discussed it at its Tuesday meeting after receiving a request from Michael Swentko, a Parkwood Drive resident. Swentko said the light is needed because of the difficulty Chicago Street drivers have entering Silhavy, especially turning north.
Swentko said the signal wouldn't be that expensive, a notion city Engineering Director Tim Burkman said isn't true. A traffic signal can cost $150,000 or more. While agreeing with Swentko's description of the difficulty Chicago Street traffic encounters, Councilman Tim Daly said he would be concerned about the signal's interaction with the nearby Canadian National Railroad tracks.
Daly and Valparaiso police Capt. Mike DeHaven said Beech Street traffic has the same problem trying to enter Silhavy, and putting a signal at either intersection could create backups between the intersections. The solution could be in the Silhavy improvements, which will be discussed by the city's Redevelopment Commission today.
Burkman said Valparaiso has received requests for a signal at Chicago Street several times. A federal grant has been approved to pay 80 percent of the cost of widening Silhavy to three lanes and adding curbs and gutters in that stretch. In the process of designing the project, the consultant could look at the advisability of adding the signal, he said.
"It's part of a bigger concept we need to look at," Burkman said. "At LaPorte and Silhavy, we are looking at building a roundabout, and a signal at Chicago could play into that by creating waves of traffic coming into the roundabout. It's part of the overall analysis that needs to be done on the corridor."
Burkman said adding the third lane to provide a continuous left-turn lane on Silhavy could ease the traffic problems on Chicago as well.