Long-range plan for SR 37 In Hamilton County could mean more roundabouts to ease traffic congestion

Lack of funding could stall plan

INDIANAPOLIS - Is Indiana's roundabout capital about to get even more of the circular traffic devices?

Hamilton County officials are looking at roundabouts as a way of easing traffic congestion along State Road 37. 

The plan to speed up traffic on SR 37 involved installing roundabouts from 126th Street to State Road 32.

But it will be expensive and time-consuming to implement.

State and local highway officials came up with the plan to prevent what they fear will be complete gridlock on the road as Hamilton County's population doubles over the next 35 years.

They believe roundabouts could solve the problem.

"One, it can address the congestion,” said Hamilton Co. Highway Director Brad Davis. “So out to 2036, we could still have a Level Service A, which is pretty much a free-flowing condition out there. Two, the roundabout-style interchanges can significantly reduce severity of crashes."

The big problem is that the roundabouts could cost up to $340 million, depending on how long construction is stretched out.

Neither the state nor the county has any money for such a project.

And residents have mixed feelings.

"I think the roundabouts are a little crazy," said one local driver.  "People have a hard time negotiating them."

"I think it's a poor plan," said another driver. "I don't think there's enough educated drivers to know how to drive the roundabouts."

"I'm in favor of it.  I just don't like having to stop all the time during the rush hour traffic. It's not as, it's not as congested, I think," another driver said.

Mayor John Ditslear, R-Noblesville, said he has reservations about the plan, both because of the cost and because of what it could do to local retail businesses which now line SR 37.

Especially since roundabouts often mean altering the height of the road.

"I have a concern that you're gonna be, you're driving along.  And all of a sudden, well, Wal-Mart's up here.  And Don Hinds Ford in Fishers is here.  Or Hare Chevrolet is down there somewhere, and that sort of thing.  So I think there might be another way," Ditslear said.

Ditslear also questioned how the proposed transit upgrade would affect this plan. 

He said if light rail is established between Noblesville and downtown Indianapolis, these roundabouts might not be necessary.

Follow Norman Cox on Twitter: @normancox6

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