Mayor proposes changes to Range Line Road, 126th Street

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As he prepares to begin his sixth term, Carmel Mayor Jim Brainard revealed plans to reshape Range Line Road by turning it into a two-lane boulevard with a landscaped median in the center. He also reiterated his goal to the remove the stop sign at 126th Street and Auman Drive as soon as a new city council takes office in January.

For 126th Street – which became a hot topic during the municipal primary elections – Brainard said he anticipates a crosswalk will replace the stop sign.

“We’re going to take this out of the political realm and let the city engineer decide,” he said.

The mayor and many city councilors announced they wanted to remove the stop sign because it causes traffic backups and was viewed as unnecessary. Other city councilors said it was a safety concern, and as a result there weren’t enough votes on the council to remove the stop sign. Some of those councilors were voted out of office and replaced with councilors who support removing the sign.

Brainard said he didn’t know if the pedestrian crosswalk would have flashing lights activated by pushing a button.

“We’re not going to over-engineer it just because it’s been an issue,” he said.

Brainard said one thing that should improve traffic and make it safer to cross the street is turning 126th Street into a two-lane road with a landscaped median between lanes. A pedestrian could stand on the median waiting to cross.

Brainard wants to take the same approach with Range Line Road as well, eliminating the middle lane, which has been called a “suicide lane” by many because drivers can use this center lane to turn both left or right, leading to instances where two cars can almost “play chicken” in their attempt to turn.

“(A boulevard) is much safer,” Brainard said. “The possibility of a head-on collision goes away. It’s safer for pedestrians to cross because they can stand in the medians. Frankly, we don’t need those lanes. We need more capacity at intersections, and roundabouts would help make the traffic move in a better way.”

Brainard said this redevelopment of Range Line Road – which is still very preliminary and doesn’t have costs released – would also allow for parallel parking along the street. In addition, the landscaped medians with greenery or flowers would help beautify the high-traffic area.

“It really would be a grand entry into Carmel,” he said.

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