Local Edition: Lebanon Indiana

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Introduction

Lebanon Indiana is one of many small towns like it located all throughout the state. An area that suffers from substandard maintenance to its roadways due to lack of street and highway funds necessary to repair sidewalks, widen arteries, replace pavements, and even construct new roads. However Lebanon, unlike many other towns its size in Indiana is poised for explosive growth due to its juxtaposition to the greater Indianapolis metro region. With its business park and plenty of developable land within the city limits and due to its being located along the recently widened Interstate 65 corridor, the potential for job growth is very high. Certainly new businesses and residences will want to relocate to our city. It is important at this vital stage to look at ways to address the traffic needs for a burgeoning city located within a greater metro area. This includes creating a master plan for roadways that will need to be constructed in order to efficiently move traffic in, around and through the city, while addressing the insufficiencies of the existing roadway network. Clearly this is just a starting point and there is much work to do, but it is clearly needed.

The map below shows some of the more major improvements needed within the City below. However, there are far more things to consider in designing a transportation system that will be effective to meet the cities needs over the next half-century. These include: Master planned communities, the institution of developer fees and making the developers responsible to improve the roadway networks before a new subdivision is approved, Public transportation, and removing additional traffic from residential collectors and existing streets to the circular road (aka. Lasley Parkway).

Lebanon Downtown Revitalization and Gateway Projects

The purpose of the project is to create a gateway at I-65 at the SR-39 interchange as well as the Indianapolis road offramp. To completely redesign the core downtown district, adding pedestrian friendly elements, parking and other beautification features to the downtown area. Other elements of this project includes reconstructing Indianapolis Ave to make it a gateway corridor to downtown Lebanon, as well as improvements along SR-39 from downtown to north side of town. Part of the Indianapolis Ave Gateway has been completed on the southernmost end with phases 2 and 3 to follow.

The I 65 Part of the Gateway has been completed. The new Lebanon Street overpass at I-65 was built without the new fancy multimillion dollar roundabouts and fantasy kinetic windmill structures opting for less intrusive towers and colorful panels instead. And Lebanon Street leading from the gateway to downtown has been left untransformed, something that needs to be changed dramatically.

In reference to the Downtown Revitalization Project the city has yet to update the City of Lebanon website regarding the project or what sort of timeline we are looking at for these improvements to be made. But expect those plans and timelines to be posted shortly. Clearly these improvements are going to cost a great deal of money, but in order to bring Lebanon forward into the 21st century, these improvements are desperately needed. Based on City meetings construction is expected to begin sometime this year and conclude sometime in 2020.

Circular Road (Lasley Parkway)

The most notable improvement to the Lebanon area is the Lasley Parkway. Lasley Parkway is a circular road that completely navigates around the city of Lebanon. Once constructed, it would allow for traffic that normally travels through the city on substandard roads, to be able to bypass the city to the north, south, east, or west. This will allow the removal of traffic from roads that are less able to handle the traffic demand, or cannot be widened or improved. Also with the removal of traffic from the city's main streets (Lebanon and South Streets). In addition, it allows for the downtown grid to be made more of a pedestrian friendly zone as depicted and planned in the gateway project that's been proposed by the city. Because of Lasley Parkway, Lebanon st would be able to be downgraded from a major arterial, and state highway, to a minor arterial instead.

Another Major benefit of the Lasley Parkway is that it allows for the development of commercial, retail, industrial, and residential developments to be built in the vicinity of the parkway. This allows the parkway to shuttle the traffic safely to the freeway, as well as new shopping centers. The ultimate vision for this parkway would include a "power center" which could include big box retailers like Kohl's or Target and Home improvement stores like HomeGoods, Restaurants like Chick-Fil-A, Culvers, Olive Garden, Chili's, and the like; Major residential developments including medium and high density residential; and an expanded Lebanon Business park to entice more technology and manufacturing companies to relocate to Lebanon.

State road 32 could also potentially be located along the southern leg of Lasley Parkway, bypassing downtown Lebanon. The orphaned section of exising SR-32 between I-65 and Lasley parkway to the west could be redesignated as SR-932 since it would serve as a connector. The downtown and east segment of SR-32 would be relinquished completely. Thus another way to remove truck traffic from downtown streets. The entire parkway could also become a state road if necessary, this would also allow for potential state and federal funding for the project.

Design features of the parkway should include:

  • Access control, limiting the number of entry and exitpoints from the roadway.
  • A landscaped center median, for traffic safety and visual appeal (two way left turn lanes will not work for this roadway).
  • 4 travel lanes with enough right of way to expand to 6 travel lanes.
  • Left and right turn pockets at intersections.
  • Traffic Signals at all major intersections
  • RIRO (right in right out) access at access points between intersections.
  • Bike/Pedestrian pathways located along either side of the parkway.
  • Intelligent transportation system to allow traffic signals to be synchronized to maximize traffic flow.
  • A design speed of 50 to 60 miles per hour.

Rerouting and Relinquishing State Road 39

Another notable change to the Lebanon area is that State Road 39 would no longer be routed through downtown Lebanon along Lebanon Street. Instead the highway would bypass the city along the interstate and then be routed along a short leg of the Lasley Parkway north of Lebanon. From there State Road 39 would continue along its regular alignment northward to SR-47 and Frankfort, IN.

The Major benefit is that Truck traffic is removed from downtown streets and the city can focus its attention on revitalizing the downtown core district and make it more pedestrian friendly as well as a destination for people to go for evening activities.

Exit 141 and Lafayette Parkway (US-52)

Exit 141 serves as the access point for the Lafayette parkway (US-52) and allows northbound access from I-65 and southbound access to I-65. The idea is to eventually close the on ramp from Lafayette Avenue and route the road north along Windhaven road and extending it to the new interchange at Lasley Parkway (Future Exit 142 near CR 300N)

The Major benefit is that the weaving traffic situation is removed from the Lafayette Parkway offramp. In addition traffic entering I-65 from Lafayette Parkway should be prevented from crossing over 3 lanes and using the left exit at Lafayette Avenue which was left open following the recent I-65 widening. Traffic could instead be routed along Lasley Parkway to Windhaven Lane or Witt Road back to Lafayette Ave. This way the dangerous lane changing scenario along I-65 can be avoided.

Northern Interchange Exit 142

Exit 138 Redesign

with the Lasley Parkway crossing over just south of the Indianapolis Ave offramp from I-65 this interchange will need to be modified to add additional ramps and wayfinding to the interstate. The city and state should explore alternatives that would serve both the Indianapolis Ave gateway and the Lasley Parkway crossing. This would be especially important if SR-32 was to be routed along the southern leg of the parkway.

Roundabouts

Construct roundabouts at key intersections within the city. Roundabouts can be a good solution for traffic movement when placed effectively and traffic volume is light to medium:

  • Witt Rd and CR 250N
  • Witt Rd and Lafayette Ave
  • Indianapolis Ave and Spencer Ave, City's plan

Some of the planned roundabouts are a good idea. one concern is the intersection at Spencer Ave. due to the angle of the street it may be better to make this a signalized intersection instead, and prohibit left turns to southbound Indianapolis Ave from Spencer Ave. The roundabout at Hall Baker is more logical since the roads approach each other at a much less sharp angle.

City Roadway Design Standard Improvements

Repaving and replacing existing roads and city sidewalks is long overdue within the city. This is especially true for Lebanon's aging streets in the central neighborhoods. Aging sidewalks and curbs have dissintegrated, overgrown by grass and weeds and have become severly cracked making it unsafe for pedestrians to use them and they end up walking in the streets instead. Additionally due to very narrow street widths parking along streets has become a problem, and creates additional safety concerns for children pedestrians and passing vehicles.

To address this some streets will need to be widened to allow additional room for parallel parking. While other streets will need to be converted to one way since they are two narrow to allow two cars to pass each other when cars are parked. Some streets may be able to have parking, just limited to one side of the street. There will also be some streets that will need to have parking prohibited since there is no additional room for parking or they are too busy or too much of a safety hazard to allow street-side parking. There should always be enough space to allow two vehicles to pass each other safely when cars are parked along streets. Painted lines are fading frequently along roads. and many do not last the winter season. Better quality paint must be used that will better bond to the pavements and resist friction wear better than current paints. All collector roads and arterials should be required to have a painted yellow center line and white fog lines on either side. In addition the proper MUTCD arrows and delineators should be used. Stop lines crosswalks and other pavement markings should also meet MUTCD standards.

Maintaining road inventory is critical to ensure a lower cost over the long haul. Roads that become too out of repair may need to be replaced entirely which will be far more expensive than chip sealing or weed abatement in the cracks and sidewalks. It is uncertain if budgetary issues are to blame for the lack of proper maintenance of roads, but this is clearly not an issue that is common to Lebanon alone. Many cities face these same issues. There are numerous neglected streets even in Indianapolis. Clearly something needs to be done to addressing infrastructure.

Big 4 Trail