City of Westfield wants to make pedestrian walkway safer with tunnel

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WESTFIELD, Ind. — The City of Westfield hopes to make an intersection safer on 161 Street at a Monon crossing. It’s where a runner was hit earlier this month.

Jeremy Lollar, the city’s Director of Public Works, said they’ve wanted to put a tunnel underneath the street for years but they are struggling to get federal funding.

He said they still plan to move forward without it. The proposal is estimated to cost $5.5 million.

Lollar said this month’s accident emphasizes the importance of the project.

“It highlights the need that we can not wait five years,” Lollar said. “Federal funds are programmed five years out. The mayor decided that we do not have time to wait five years.”

After the runner was hit, the city installed flashing lights on the “stop” signs  to tell pedestrians to stop before crossing the street. Lollar and city officials believe the tunnel is a necessary step to keep people safe.

“We know it is inevitable that we have to change this intersection,” he said.

Although, some residents were concerned about the cost of the project.

“I think there are other solutions that should be evaluated before we consider just going ahead and spending that much money,” said Jim Thurston, a resident in Westfield.

It made Thurston wonder if there is a cheaper option. The city said the tunnel was the less expensive choice out of the two options they looked at.

“The use of the trail and the traffic on the road are not going to decrease,” said Lollar. “They are going to continue to increase and we find it to be an important priority for the city.”

Other bikers on the trail said the intersection is too hectic and something needs to change. The cost made some pause, but they felt it might be worth it in the end.

“The minute a child or a person is hurt here, then all of a sudden it would seem like it was money well spent,” said Jeff Cross, a biker.

Data provided by the city shows there have been 9 accidents at this crossing since 2016. At the time, they were not sure if the numbers included pedestrians.

Lollar said they are talking to an engineering consultant to finalize the plans. He said the project will then go to the Board of Public Works for approval.

They hope to start construction in about 2 years.

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