Carmel’s new engineering administrator addresses construction concerns

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Many residents in Carmel have been asking questions about the road construction underway, including closures of 126th Street eastbound to Keystone Parkway, the intersection of Range Line Road and Carmel Drive and the upcoming closure of 116th Street and Gray Road. Both of those intersections will be turned into new roundabouts. The Range Line and Carmel Drive closure is expected to take 90 days and will be finished sometime in November.

Kirsh

Kirsh

Joshua Kirsh, a member of the Carmel Plan Commission and the Carmel Clay Parks Board, has recently been hired by the City of Carmel as engineering administrator to help the department with public relations and communications. He’s also a lead city official for CarmelLink 2.0, an initiative to provide updates on the ongoing construction projects. Before the project began, Kirsh met face-to-face with business owners and explained the closures. He spoke to Current in Carmel about questions from the public.

How have the nearby business been affected and what is the city doing?

“We were proactive in the sense that we went out and let people know what was happening, why it was happening and when it was happening. We gave them resources to overcome that, including detour maps, advance marketing help, focus groups with businesses to discuss effects and impacts, which I understand is somewhat of a first. Most municipalities don’t do those sort of things, they just close the intersection. We really were proactive in that sense so everyone was in the know before it happened.”

What about motorists cutting through business parking lots? Is that something that is being discouraged?

“These businesses aren’t really OK with this, but they are being patient and understanding. We are adjusting some of our signage to prevent these aggressive drivers cutting through private parking lots. Driving fast through private parking lots can be dangerous, and we urge the motorists to slow down and be courteous to everyone. None of the businesses wanted to shut down their parking lots because it’s a double-edged sword. You prevent people from driving aggressively, but then people can’t get to your business.”

A stop sign was put in at Executive and Carmel drives to allow people to turn left from that detour. Is that an adjustment the city made because of the ongoing projects?

“Jeremy Kashman, the city engineer, actually came up with that solution for cars exiting south off of Executive Drive to be able to head east on Carmel Drive, and it’s worked well. We’re continuing to monitor the situation as it ripples out, and we are constantly discussing what solutions might be available in the short term while keeping in mind that this will be over in a few months.”

What about backups on Medical Drive?

“That is being monitored right now.”

Why is so much construction going on at the same time?

“Many factors go into this. Weather, finances, preliminary utility work orders, the need to stay on track with all of these projects over the next few years. This particular roundabout project was tied to federal funding, and it came with a deadline. It needed to be done this year. The 126th Street project is also a key project that needed to be done this year. We just hope people understand that there are a lot of factors and to continue to be patient.”

 I know there are other roundabouts on the master plan, including along Range Line Road at Executive Drive and 126th Street. Will we run into similar problems down the road?

“Not necessarily. This roundabout at Range Line and Carmel Drive is a unique situation. There’s a federal grant involved, and it involved a lot of utility relocations. These other ones aren’t as complicated, but they are still in planning, so I can’t go too much into the scope just yet. These other roundabouts don’t have as much retail as this special unique situation. You also have to consider that these road improvements on 126th and Carmel Drive will end up being the detours for these other projects that will be completed in the coming years. So, we needed to get these done first. And you’ll see increased traffic for this major intersection when they reopen, which is good for these businesses, too.”

So does the 116th Street and Gray Road roundabout construction affect these same motorists?

“It’s about as far out as it gets. It’s on the other side of Keystone. If you have any concerns though, you can go to CarmelLink.com to figure out how to go from place to place around all this construction.”

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