Clay County residents are not happy and they have made their feelings known. At issue is Indiana Department of Transportation's decision to change the intersection of U.S. 40, SR 340 and CR 700W (Miami Gardens Road) at the Vigo County line.
INDOT Public Hearings Manager Rickie Clark said written testimony agreed with public testimony given at Northview High School on Sept. 25, 2001.
At the public hearing, 11 people spoke against the project, no one favored it. One person asked that due consideration be given aesthetics and the historical significance of U.S. 40/SR 340, according to INDOT minutes of the meeting.
One person who spoke challenged the idea that safety is a factor at the intersection. The economic impact on the Reece's Point service station was also questioned.
Additionally, 36 written responses were received by INDOT after the public hearing: 33 expressed opposition, two supported the project and one letter requested consideration for aesthetics and the historical significance of the area.
"A petition drive yielded 174 signatures opposing the project," the report states.
"People did not care much for the project," Clark said Monday. "They said it is not needed; the cost did not justify the project.
"We have received quite a lot of opposition. Property owners have received their legal notices and they are not very happy."
But the project will go forward as planned, despite opposition.
"In response to those suggesting the existing intersection is not overly dangerous, it can be said that road design standards widely used and accepted consider the intersection geometry highly undesirable," states the report. The report also denies any evidence that Reece's Point's business will be adversely affected by the construction.
"In response to those suggesting only adding an eastbound left turn lane onto U.S. 40, widening along U.S. 40 would still be required (as currently proposed) and would not address the deficiencies of the existing SR 340/CR 700W intersection," the report argues.
Bids for the estimated $1.5 million project will be let and accepted in the fall of 2004 and the project should be started in the spring of 2005. According to the final design summary, "Improvements include separation of the existing SR 340/CR 700 W combined intersection with U.S. 40."
Under the proposal, SR 340 will intersect U.S. 40 about 220 meters (726 feet) east of CR 700W with a "Tee" connection. Also proposed is a "continuous left turn lane for eastbound traffic turning north on CR 700W and SR 340. U.S. 40 will be widened on both the north and south sides and the existing narrow grass median will be paved to accommodate this left turn lane," the final design summary states.
The design will require more than 40 driveways to be rebuilt with driveway pipes as required by state code.
The INDOT report says no traffic signal and high-volume traffic have combined to make the existing intersection unsafe; "favorable for accidents involving left-turning vehicles from SR 340 to U.S. 40 and from U.S. 40 to SR 340."
INDOT's report says traffic is expected to increase at the rate of 3.8 percent compounded annually.
In 2002, traffic on U.S. 40 was estimated to be 15,354 vehicles , SR 340 to be 1,940 vehicles and CR 700W to be 1,465 vehicles per day. By the year 2022, U.S. 40 traffic is expected to be 32,366 vehicles, SR 340 to be 4,084 vehicles and CR 700W to be 3,081 vehicles per day.
No indication is given for the basis of these numbers.
The report goes on to say, "another problem with the intersection is the lack of left-turn refuge for the large number of vehicles on U.S. 40 making a left turn onto SR 340/CR 700W. Traffic is stopping in the left eastbound lane of U.S. 40, while waiting to make a left turn, creating a hazard to through traffic."
Plans for the project began on March 29, 1997, when a preliminary field investigation was conducted at the intersection. In attendance were personnel from INDOT's Environmental Assessment Section, INDOT Crawfordsville district office and the engineering firm of Beam, Longest and Neff, acting as consultants.
The consultants compiled an engineering study report dated November 1997.
That report formed the basis for the final design. Exceptions were, "The project length on U.S. 40 has been extended west to accommodate the taper for the exclusive left onto CR 700W, and extended east" and SR 340 construction will be extended east beyond the dimensions given in the preliminary report.