Construction detour changed after complaints from Franklin neighborhood

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FRANKLIN, Ind. – As spring and summer road construction projects continue throughout central Indiana, a group of neighbors in Franklin are encouraging other neighborhoods to make their voices heard when it comes to traffic problems.

This week, people who live along Jefferson Street, just west of I-65, saw a dramatic increase in traffic flowing down their normally quiet street. The traffic was being detoured off King Street, a main corridor from I-65 to downtown Franklin, for a continuing resurfacing project. The closure of Eastview Drive for a roundabout project diverted even more traffic down Jefferson Street between Milford Drive and Forsythe Street.

“We hear speeding through the neighborhood and we got concerns about kids trying to play in their yards that aren’t used to this kind of traffic,” said Franklin Mayor Steve Barnett.

Jonalyn Palmer says the extra traffic has gotten so bad that she and her neighbors are having a hard time getting out of their driveways.

“I’ve actually started timing how long it takes me to pull out of the driveway,” Palmer said. “The longest, probably about 8 to 10 minutes.”

This week, Palmer and her family posted a sign in their front lawn that says “Drive like your kids live here.” She and her two young daughters have spent the last couple evenings waving at the passing cars as a reminder to slow down through the residential area.

“There’s no speed limit posted, so people don’t watch out for that,” she said. “Some people honk, some people smile, others still just pass.”

Mayor Barnett and city engineer Mark Richards say they heard enough complaints about the traffic to make a change to the detour for the King Street project. Richards says the city will post an alternate detour to the west. Detour signs will give drivers the option of using Umbarger Lane, to Greensburg Road and connecting back to Jefferson Street closer to downtown Franklin. Richards hopes the extra option will ease some of the traffic flow through the residential neighborhood.

“These things are kind of works in progress,” Richards said. “When we plan projects like this, we do what we think is best. But then we can make changes on the fly.”

Regardless of what city or town a resident lives in, Richards encourages anyone with neighborhood traffic concerns to contact city and project planners. In the case of this project, neighbors voicing their concerns were effective in prompting a change.

“Make sure you communicate your concerns, identify any specific issues that you have, and work with the municipality to get it resolved,” Richards said.

The city hopes to have signs for the alternate detour in place by the end of the week. The detour will be needed for the King Street project for another seven weeks. Overall construction to improve traffic through downtown Franklin is expected to finish by the end of construction season in 2019, Richards said.

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