Complicated 4-way stop to get traffic lightsJune 16, 2020
By ALLEN LAMAN
JASPER — Down the road, an infamous four-way stop in Jasper will be equipped with traffic lights.
The Indiana Department of Transportation aims to bring the lights to the intersection of Third and Newton streets, located southwest of the Courthouse Square, in the distant future.
Bids for the project are on track to be let in July 2021. Work will begin at a yet-to-be-determined date after that.
“It is a confusing intersection, that’s for sure,” Jeff Theising, the city’s street commissioner, said of the seven-lane junction. “Because there’s a lot of things going on there.”
Jason Tiller, the INDOT district communications director, explained that a traffic study showed that an average of 3,800 vehicles make their way through that area daily. The crash rate is “fairly low,” Tiller said, but he noted that a light will serve to address congestion issues as the traffic corridor grows.
“It’s a growing corridor, from what I can tell,” he said in a Monday phone interview. “And if it were left alone, as is right now, with the growth, you’re probably looking at even larger congestion issues than you have now.”
He continued: “Because anytime you have congestion like that, you do see a higher rate of crashes, just from the simple fact that there are more cars there. So, this is actually a very proactive measure to ensure that traffic moves through this intersection smoothly, for years to come, as it grows.”
While not all of the specifics of the design are set, an exclusive right-turn lane for westbound traffic turning northbound will be part of the intersection’s improvements.
Enhancement projects like this can range from 30 days to six months to complete, Tiller said, and a timeline for how long this one will take will firm up once the contract is awarded. He added that it is possible that extenuating factors could also delay the bid letting, but at this point, everything is on schedule.
Theising explained that initially, city leadership was unsure that the new lights would help the flow of vehicles in the area. This was because of the new lights’ location, between two nearby intersections that already use traffic signals — Newton and Sixth streets, as well as Third Street and Jackson Street.
After meeting with INDOT and being assured that the new lights will sync with the existing ones, he said the city is on board with the project.
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