And the winner is ..... a roundabout.
That’s the recommendation for a relocated Indiana 49 intersection north of
Oak Hill Road proposed to serve the Porter County Tourism visitor center and
related new development tied to the Town of Porter’s Gateway to the Indiana
The roundabout is envisioned as an iconic, welcoming “front door” to
announce the Dunes experience is being extended beyond the immediate Lake
According to a $110,000 draft Indiana 49 corridor feasibility study
presented to the Porter Redevelopment Commission on Tuesday, the roundabout
is favored as a traffic control and traffic-calming measure over a standard
Advocates say roundabouts keep traffic moving faster and more reliably than
a typical stop-and-go intersection.
While it’s recommended the Gateway roundabout be designed with features that
would facilitate its use by semi-truck traffic, it also is recommended that
an evaluation take place of alternative truck routing through other major
arterials to improve efficiency and safety for Indiana 49 motorists and
Gateway consultant A.J. Monroe of SEH said engineers are comfortable that a
roundabout can be built to accomodate semi-trucks.
Commission member Bruce Snyder questioned the reliability of computerized
intersection modeling. “Once everything’s done and the engineers and
professionals walk away, we have real life.” Member Al Raffin questioned how
trucks maneuver on the roundabout in Valparaiso now.
Other changes proposed, said Monroe, are that Indiana 49 north of the
roundabout be reduced from four lanes to two lanes with a median. At U.S. 12
an exclusive northbound left turn lane is recommended to provide more space
for turning vehicles.
In addition, the driveway access points off U.S. 12 to the parking areas at
the Dune Park South Shore station should be evaluated for possible
modifications, said the Indiana 49 study. The station is envisioned to play
a greater role in bringing Gateway tourists to the area.
The Indiana Department of Transportation currently is reconstructing the
Indiana 49 bridges over U.S. 12 and the South Shore railroad as two rather
than the current four lanes. In FY 2012 INDOT has scheduled north of the
bridges to rebuild four-lane Indiana 49 as a two-lane section with
landscaped parkways, trails and walkways into the Indiana Dunes State Park,
according to the town’s Indiana 49 study.
Monroe said the Gateway plan was conceived after INDOT decided to reduce
travel lanes into the park. “It needs to be said again the project sponsored
by the town is reacting to a decision already made.”
He emphasized it’s up to INDOT, not the town, whether Gateway’s
recommendations for Indiana 49 will be accepted.
Redevelopment Commission member LeAnn McCrum said the town is trying to
proactively influence INDOT with its feasibility study. Porter director of
engineering Matt Keiser said having the Indiana 49 study will carry more
weight with INDOT.
Monroe noted south of U.S. 12 even INDOT needs concurrence from the Federal
Highway Administration to make any modifications to Indiana 49, which is
intersected by U.S. 20 and Interstate 94 along the corridor. All Gateway
improvements would be north of I-94.
Monroe said copies of the town’s 1-inch-thick Indiana 49 study were
delivered to INDOT Monday for review; copies of it as well as of a companion
Gateway Alternative Transportation Study will be available at the Porter
town hall and on the town’s website.
The ATS recommendations propose a shuttle service be implemented for a trial
period and notes “as the primary proponent of the ATS study, the Town of
Porter would be in a good position to initiate and champion establishment of
an ATS program in the Dunes Gateway/SR 49 corridor” through a collaborative
effort of key stakeholders involved.
No specific financing plan is recommended, however, according to the study
“it is likely that the primary responsibility will fall upon a single lead
entity such as a municipality in the Dunes Gateway/SR 49 corridor.” While
it’s politically or fiscally not practical a municipality alone would pay
for the shuttle service, the study acknowleges, the ATS sponsor should
investigate available state and federal funds.
The ATS draft report was not discussed by the Redevelopment Commission due
to time constraints; it will be addressed with the Indiana 49 study
recommendations at the April 26 meeting.
Monroe said Tuesday that the Indiana 49 study’s weekday/weekend traffic
counts conducted June, 2010 show the four-lane road built to serve 36,000
vehicles per day handles less than one-third that volume.
Indiana 49 weekday volume from Oak Hill Road to U.S. 20 was 11,621 vehicles
per day and 7,863 vehicles per weekend day. From U.S. 20 to U.S. 12, volume
dropped to 8,775 vehicles per weekday and 6,899 vehicles per weekend day.
The study projected additional traffic volume that would result if some of
the Gateway amenities are built like retail/restaurant uses, a mini-golf
course/putting green, water park, hotel/conference center and resort hotel.
The finding was a roundabout and two-lane Indiana 49 can accomodate future
Gateway traffic demand.