Chesterton Tribune



Ways to improve business visibility on East Indian Boundary Road limited

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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 know.

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 done.

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.”

O’Dell specifically considered four possible ways of approaching the problem:

* Additional signage on Indian Boundary Road.

* Additional 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.

Additional Signage

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 sight.

Additional Roadway Cuts

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.”


O’Dell does 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.

Logo 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.

Tourist Oriented 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.

Going Forward

O’Dell emphasized that his memo is not a final document and asked members to review it with an eye to suggestions and improvements.



Posted 11/28/2014




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