By Desiree Williams
Carmel High School students crossing 136th Street by foot to arrive at school will see a few changes in the next school year. In addition to narrowing travel lanes to calm traffic and add a center median, new markings and a flashing light will be added to the crosswalk to increase pedestrian visibility.
No accidents in the area prompted the improvement. Rather, it was a proactive recommendation from the school resource officers, said Carmel Police Dept. Sgt. D.J. Schoeff. An estimated 2,000 to 2,500 students cross the street in that area daily.
“We saw that as a place that we want to improve some visibility for cars that are traveling through there and draw more attention to it so that people are slowing down a little bit more,” Schoeff said.
City Engineer Jeremy Kashman said the crossing was added to the scope of a larger project funded through 2017 bonds to construct a multi-use path along 136th Street from Keystone Parkway to Range Line Road to increase connectivity in the area.
“Once we started getting into the design of the project, we started discussing how to best handle the intersection there at 136th Street and (Stadium Drive),” he said.
The city ruled out constructing a bridge or tunnel because of elevation differences, flooding issues and cost.
The city has already placed push-button-activated flashing lights at multiple intersections, and that same technology will be installed at the CHS crosswalk. The median allows students to cross one lane of traffic, rest, and then cross the second.
An officer will remain at the crosswalk to direct traffic during busy hours, and the crosswalk signal will be deactivated during those times to avoid confusion.
“It won’t do much of anything to traffic flow at all,” Schoeff said. “We already stop the traffic when kids are crossing. All this is going to do is make it more visible for cars traveling on 136th Street to make it obvious that that’s a crossing area and give more guidance as to where our kids can be as they cross, so that both parties then know where it’s expected that a pedestrian would be.”
Kashman said construction will begin this summer. The city has allocated nearly $2 million for the project.