The Carmel Clay Schools board of trustees voted Oct. 26 to transfer a small piece of land near Carmel High School to the City of Carmel to make way for a roundabout, but not before some board members expressed concerns about the safety of the intersection after the project is complete.
The City of Carmel is planning to convert the intersection of 4th Avenue and Main Street, currently controlled by a traffic light, to a roundabout. School board members said they had no problem transferring the .05 acres to the city without compensation, but some questioned whether a roundabout would provide a safe crossing for the many students who travel between the school and the Carmel Clay Public Library, which is directly across the street. The library is closed for renovations, but when it’s open a steady crowd of students crosses Main Street to visit the library after the school day ends.
“I’m still not satisfied with the way they’ve laid that out for our students and the traffic, because it’s not a whole lot different than the ones that are down on 126th Street,” board member Pam Knowles said. “The traffic does not go through there very slowly, and they don’t wait for people. It’s still concerning.”
Carmel Mayor Jim Brainard said the city has been planning for the roundabout for years and that CCS has been involved in the process. He said Carmel officials are “leaning toward” adding a raised, mid-block crosswalk with flashing lights activated by crossing pedestrians to help slow traffic in the area. He would like to see the road transformed into a boulevard with a median in the center to provide additional safety for pedestrians.
Brainard said intersections with traffic lights are more dangerous for pedestrians than those with roundabouts because of vehicle speeds at the intersection.
“Many times there is a false sense of security in a crosswalk at a stoplight, but a stoplight tends to encourage faster speeds as people speed up to go through the yellow before it turns red,” he said. “If there is a mistake, the accident takes place at a much higher speed.”
Brainard said plans to improve nearby roads are under way to help reduce traffic on Main Street. Upgrades are proposed on Smoky Row Road between Old Meridian and Range Line Road, which should provide a better east-west option for those who do not want to drive through the often-crowded Arts & Design District. Veterans Way is also expected to be expanded in the next few years to help alleviate traffic congestion in the area.
The board members approved the transfer unanimously, with board member Layla Spanenberg saying she voted in favor despite her concerns about safety because the city could acquire the land by eminent domain if the school board did not approve the transfer.