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Construction, traffic signal cycle causing congested commute

Posted at 12:00 PM, Oct 25, 2018
and last updated 2018-10-26 11:02:29-04

INDIANAPOLIS -- Construction along Meridian Street has been plaguing us for months.

One intersection, in particular, where Meridian Street intersects with 54th Street, seems to be causing a lot of trouble for drivers in terms of gridlock.

We wanted to take a look for ourselves, so we spent one morning commute at the intersection, and found that traffic does indeed get backed up.

Drivers who take Meridian Street for their commute reported that they are frustrated.

Chung Chow said she uses Meridian as her main artery for the morning commute, however, with the construction going on, she gets stuck on Meridian heading into 54th Street for more than 15 minutes.  

Thomas Dylan Goldberg goes to Ivy Tech College and told us it doesn’t only get congested during the morning commute, but also sometimes in the evening.

"It backs up sometimes at like 5 or early in the morning at 7,” Goldberg said.

What seems to be the cause for the backup? For one, construction.

"I understand that they're putting in, I believe a rapid lane for bus transit. Which could be good. I hope that it's utilized,” said Greg McGraw, who lives in Greenwood, and when we spoke with him, said he had been caught in the gridlock a couple of days in a row.

The bus system McGraw was referring to is the IndyGo Red Line. IndyGo is working on building that Red Line system between 18th and 38th streets. We reached out to IndyGo about the project, to see if they can do anything to alleviate the congestion---and they provided the following statement:

“IndyGo continues to monitor the flow of traffic and transit in all construction zones, and works to make adjustments where possible to improve flow. We recognize the construction is a disruption and appreciate the patience building significantly better transit service through a high density and high ridership corridor."

But what might be the most alarming at that intersection—the traffic light signal’s cycle. The construction is not part of the IndyGo Red Line project. It's a private contractor. 

The first thing I noticed was that the green light is significantly shorter than the red light—and if we’re being exact, four times shorter. The green light is 20 seconds, while the red light continues for one minute and 20 seconds.

Pair this traffic signal cycle with the lane restriction for construction, and you’ve got a recipe for gridlock.

Drivers are resorting to leaving earlier than they typically would, by a lot.

"From my house, it's about a 25-minute drive, and I normally leave about 40 minutes early,” said Goldberg.

Others are just being patient, with the future in mind.

"I know it's progress, so I've just got to keep that in mind. It's only temporary,” said McGraw.

All while holding on to the hope that the restriction is lifted, sooner rather than later.

"I want this lane to be open. That would be great," said Chow.

Though this is an IndyGo project, we also reached out to the Department of Public Works about the traffic signal cycle. They said they are going to send engineers to the intersection for inspection and should have results in a couple of days.