When developer Anderson Birkla recently showed a map of the proposed mixed-use development on the former Party Time Rental site, there were two sets of plans. One map showed Range Line Road as it is right now and another showed two new roundabouts along Range Line – one at Carmel Drive and another at Executive Drive.
Carmel Mayor Jim Brainard said he would like to revive the plans to construct roundabouts in these locations and he said it should be about 90 percent paid for through federal road funds. Total costs were not revealed just yet and no public announcement has been made.
Some councilors have questioned cost projections. It’s possible that considerable land would have to be acquired and the roundabout could impact the Arby’s at Carmel Drive, possibly necessitating relocation.
City Councilor Luci Snyder has been a vocal opponent of the idea and along with her fellow councilors she worked to remove the proposed roundabout from the city’s comprehensive plan. She said the cost isn’t the only concern, but construction would negatively affect businesses.
“We’ve talked to the business owners and they tell us they don’t want these roundabouts,” Snyder said.
Furthermore, Snyder said businesses don’t want fast moving traffic along Range Line. She said a brief stop at an intersection is a chance for potential customers to discover new restaurants and businesses.
Brainard doesn’t buy that argument. In fact, he said studies have shown that roundabouts can increase traffic for neighboring businesses because if congestion becomes an issue than consumers will just avoid an area all together. He also said they always try to minimize the impact of construction and you can’t let that be a reason to avoid moving the city forward. The bottom line he said is that traffic could flow better along these areas and there’s federal money to help improve the situation.
Snyder was voted out of office and now Brainard has a majority of candidates that he endorsed taking office in January. As a result, a new council means this discussion isn’t dead yet.