Dangerous Intersection at State Road 45 and Pete Ellis Drive/Range Road

12 Oct

The intersection of State Road 45 (10th Street) and Pete Ellis Dr (to the south) and Range Rd (to the north) is unsafe and needs to be addressed. And as bad as it is now, in five years when IU Health Bloomington Hospital moves to the area north of Range Road, it will be 10 times worse, as this intersection will be the backup/alternate route to/from the hospital. Because this intersection is on a state road (SR 45), the road is in the state’s jurisdiction (i.e., not in the jurisdiction of the City of Bloomington or Monroe County).

The following map shows the intersection that I am concerned about:

Map of Range Road Area

Map of Range Road Area

The following diagram illustrates the problem with this intersection. Basically, there are a lot of cars traveling on SR45 (10th Street) going westbound that stop at the traffic signal to make a left turn (there is no left turn lane or leading light). However, many motorists traveling behind the stopped car (or cars) will attempt to pass on the right, despite lack of a passing lane. When the car at the intersection turns left, it creates an unsafe and ambiguous situation, in which the car behind the car making the left turn will move ahead and go straight through the intersection (properly), while at the same time a car is passing them on the right in an area that isn’t large enough to merge back in safely.

SR45 - Range Road/Pete Ellis Intersection

SR45 – Range Road/Pete Ellis Intersection

The crash statistics bear out the perception that this is a dangerous intersection. Per the 2012-2014 Draft Bloomington/Monroe County Metropolitan Planning Organization Crash Report:

  • This intersection ranks 14th in overall crashes from all the intersections in the MPO boundary, up from 32nd, and averaging 18 crashes per year.
  • When weighted by traffic volume, the overall crash rate (crashes per million entering vehicles) is ranked 22nd among all intersections
  • And ranked by severity of crash, it is 16th in the county.

Although INDOT has, at some point, planned to reconstruct state road 45 from the bypass east to Russell Road, at this point they have no plans to address the situation. As serious as the situation is right now, the situation will become dire if not addressed before IU Health Bloomington Hospital relocates in the Range Road area.

Here is a brief history of INDOT’s purported plans in this area. from what I can ascertain from searches of local media:

  • INDOT announced in 2005 that widening SR 45 from the bypass to Russell Road was on their 10-year priority list for the area (Source: Herald Times)
  • Governor Mitch Daniels announced in September of 2005 that the widening of SR45 from the bypass to Pete Ellis Dr was planned for 2006 (Source: Herald Times)
  • In a “final” 10-year plan for Major Moves projects, the widening of the bypass, plus widening SR 45 from the bypass to Pete Ellis would be completed in 2008-2009, and from Pete Ellis to Russell Road would be completed by 2011 (Source: Herald Times)
  • INDOT held a public hearing on the proposed SR45 improvements at University Elementary School on September 18, 2008 (I attended and spoke at this public hearing about providing better pedestrian access to University Elementary School)
  • In October 2008, INDOT launched a Web site dedicated to the potential widening of SR45 from Pete Ellis to Russell Road: www.in.gov/indot/div/projects/sr45/. Unfortunately this Web site no longer exists. However, due to the wonders of the Internet Archive Wayback Machine, the contents of this site are still available! Most importantly, INDOT updated the site on 2010-03-24 to say:
    • “Due to an extensive “re-racking” process recently completed by INDOT and state of Indiana leadership, the road improvement project on State Road 45 (E 10th Street in Bloomington) from Pete Ellis Drive to Russell Road has been shelved. This means that the scheduled Begin Construction date is now TBD (To Be Determined). This effectively means that the project will not be considered for possible re-activation until 2020 at the earliest.”
  • In January of 2013, the Hotline column of the Herald Times reported that Beth Hamilton from INDOT stated that the expansion of SR45 from the bypass to Pete Ellis was “still an active project”, but that there had been no bid-letting date scheduled, so no date was available (Source: Herald Times)
  • In October of 2015, Brandi Fischvogt from the INDOT Seymour District (the district that has jurisdiction over Monroe County) wrote me to tell me that she had been informed that “INDOT does not currently have any projects planned in this area”.
The upshot is that INDOT does not have any plans at all to address this dangerous intersection, whether through a broader road reconstruction, or a more targeted solution. This is not acceptable. We as a community need to work together and work with INDOT to make sure that this situation is addressed before a major new regional hospital moves in.
I am already working to put together a group to raise the profile of this issue, and would very much appreciate any suggestions or ideas from other members of the community.
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One Response to “Dangerous Intersection at State Road 45 and Pete Ellis Drive/Range Road”

  1. John Weber October 12, 2015 at 7:48 pm #

    Agreed.

    An additional issue with this intersection is the approach from the south. The width and fading of the paint make it unclear what the driver is supposed to do. Formerly, there were two northbound lanes south of the intersection – the left one labelled for turning left or going straight, and the right for right turns only. Since many other intersections have the right or center lane for going straight, many drivers attempt to do that, and I witnessed many occasions of both lanes attempting to go straight north into an area wide enough for one car. The lines faded to where they were unviewable until the last time they were painted, when the right lane was painted out, and left, straight, and right were all supposed to use one lane. The paint has since completely faded again, but even before it did, drivers continued to use the “right lane” to attempt to go right or straight.

    Even if it is a while before they get to it, the lines should be re=painted to be visible.

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