Retail Roundtable discusses traffic solutions

Photo by Jade GlabLocal business owners congregated at La Porte's HotSpot Cafe to discuss how reducing traffic congestion would benefit downtown. 

La PORTE — La Porte Mayoral Candidate Tom Dermody hosted the first “Retail Roundtable” at the Hotspot Cafe on Lincoln Way. Local business owners gathered to share ideas about steps the city could make to improve business downtown.

Dermody started things off by bringing up one of La Porte’s most glaring issues, traffic.

“One thing that I think needs to happen for the downtown to continue to grow is finding alternative routes to remove truck traffic. The county has received a grant and we’re looking at alternative roads and what could possibly happen with the future north-south corridor,” said Dermody.

The grant money awarded to the county was used, in part, for research necessary to produce the required documentation to develop a plan for the north-south corridor. Dermody invited Susan Al-Abbas from Lochmueller Group, a Midwest regional consulting firm.

“The goal [for the north-south corridor’s development] would be to improve vehicular, as well as pedestrian safety,” Al-Abbas stated.

Part of the planning phase requires a National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) document to be produced, which will serve to document a purpose and need for the corridor’s development. According to Al-Abbas the purposes and needs are to reduce forecasted congestion in the city’s central business district, support the development of the central city as a livable center, improve vehicular and pedestrian safety and improve access for economic development.

Al-Abbas presented the results of a study that Lochmueller Group had been conducting on the downtown’s traffic patterns. The study determined the amount of traffic during peak traffic hours. It measured the amount of cars during the worst hour of traffic, specifically the intersection of Ind. 2 and U.S. 35 and the intersection of Ind. 2 and Ind. 4. Traffic in these areas was shown to greatly effect the businesses on and near Lincoln Way.

The study also measured traffic signal delay within the intersection. The study found that people typically end up waiting through at least two cycles of each traffic light in those intersections. When accounting for peak traffic, it is safe to expect to be waiting at the light for a good 80 seconds.

Al-Abbas summarized the projected outcome of the development of the north-south corridor, “if you build this, you shift over 50 percent of truck traffic out to another corridor out of downtown, you reduce traffic congestion downtown, and you reduce delays.”

The city is still considering what route will be optimal for mitigating traffic congestion and has made no official statement regarding its location.

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