A month ago the
Chesterton Redevelopment Commission asked department heads to ponder a
solution to the twofold problem faced by businesses on Indian Boundary Road
east of Ind. 49: visibility and accessibility.
These were the
issues foremost on Vicki Brock’s mind in July, when she appeared before the
Town Council to voice her fears for the viability of businesses which
out-of-towners, if they’re approaching Indian Boundary Road from the north,
don’t even know exist or--otherwise--can’t easily get to even if they do
At the time the
council urged Brock to take her concerns to the Indiana Department of
Transportation, which after all has jurisdiction over right-of-way on Ind.
49. But Brock subsequently made little headway with INDOT and on learning of
this Jim Ton, who sits on the Redevelopment Commission as well as on the
Town Council, suggested in October that department heads take a more active
interest in the problem.
This they have
At its meeting
Monday night, the commission received from Town Engineer Mark O’Dell a draft
memo entitled “Re: Additional Business Signage on Ind. 49 and I-94.”
considered four possible ways of approaching the problem:
signage on Indian Boundary Road.
roadway cuts on Indian Boundary Road.
* Resolving the
sight-distance issue for motorists southbound on Ind. 49 and approaching
Indian Boundary Road.
* And the Indiana
Logo and Tourist Oriented Directional Signs (TODS) program.
Of these, O’Dell
and staff have concluded, one approach--INDOT’s Logo and TODS program--is
likely to be of the most benefit to businesses on East Indian Boundary Road.
With respect to
additional signage on Indian Boundary Road, O’Dell noted in the memo that an
amendment to the town’s Sign Ordinance was approved earlier this year. That
amendment, among other things, increased the amount of signage a given
business is permitted, enhanced options for monument signs, and formally
allowed the installation--“with certain restrictions”--of dynamic signs.
O’Dell accordingly recommends that businesses concerned about their
visibility should review the new Sign Ordinance and apply for a permit for
any additional signage which they may be allowed.
But businesses are
still not permitted to erect off-site signage advertising their name or
trade on any other property, including municipal right-of-way, O’Dell added.
The rationale for this prohibition is clear: off-site signage would invite a
free-for-all, difficult to regulate and hazardous to motorists’ lines of
On the subject of
accessibility--for instance, to Applebee’s or Pizza Hut, which do not have
driveway cuts directly onto East Indian Boundary Road--O’Dell observed that
the multiplicity of driveway cuts west of Ind. 49 has historically led to
“vehicle accidents and very poor traffic flow.” The idea when platting and
designing commercial development east of Ind. 49 was, on the contrary, to
limit the number of driveway cuts, and all end users knew before purchasing
their property that they would not be allowed a driveway cut directly onto
East Indian Boundary Road. More: “All travelers understand the concept of
‘frontage roads’ in order to get to restaurants or businesses.”
acknowledge that motorists southbound on Ind. 49 from I-94 have no real
idea, as they approach the intersection of Indian Boundary Road, that
turning left instead of right will take them into a thriving corridor of
eateries and retail. That’s because a large stand of trees at the northwest
corner of the intersection effectively blocks motorists’ view of East Indian
Boundary Road. However, O’Dell stated, “The removal of these trees would not
improve the situation because the southbound vehicles would already be too
close to the intersection and already committed to a specific lane.”
Logo and TODS
In the end O’Dell
plumped for INDOT’s Logo and TODS program as a business’ best bet.
signs--technically “specific service signs”--are familiar to all travelers.
For a monthly participation fee, a business may add its logo to the specific
service signs posted at crossroads or near interchanges and alerting
travelers to “Gas - Next Right” or “Food - Next Left,” for example. Other
eligible business categories are lodging, attractions, and campgrounds.
According to INDOT, there are approximately 700 different sign panels in the
state featuring the logos of more than 2,500 businesses.
Directional Signs (TODS) are blue highway signs--2’ x 6’ with reflective
sheeting--informing travelers of campgrounds, recreational sites and other
attractions, and tourist services. They are typically installed on
conventional state highways in rural areas, INDOT said, and featured
businesses pay a monthly participation fee.
that his memo is not a final document and asked members to review it with an
eye to suggestions and improvements.