New stoplights causing traffic snarl

GREENFIELD — New traffic signals at three busy Greenfield intersections are causing traffic backups at peak times of the day, but a state highway spokesman said the problem is only temporary.

The Indiana Department of Transportation has installed new stoplights at State Road 9 and McKenzie Road and State Road 9 and Green Meadows Drive. A third signal will be installed soon at State Road 9 and New Road, and INDOT spokesman Nathan Riggs said the department is waiting until all three intersections are completed before configuring the timing on the lights.

So in the meantime, people wanting to get onto McKenzie Road during rush hour have to wait.

For local residents like Adam Grimes, the change can’t come soon enough.

Grimes, a Greenfield-Central High School senior, said, while he’s seen traffic backed up at McKenzie and State Road 9 many times before, it’s never been so bad, especially for people who are turning left onto McKenzie Road.

“I just think they should change it back,” Grimes said.

Riggs said change hopefully will come by early next week.

He said the three intersections in Greenfield are part of a bigger contract the state department holds to install new, yellow flashing arrow lights at busy central Indiana intersections.

A flashing yellow arrow allows left-turning traffic to make the turn if there are no vehicles or pedestrians coming. The type of signal improves intersection efficiency because it allows for more left turns, Riggs said.

But while construction remains underway at Green Meadows Drive and New Road, people simply will have to be patient at McKenzie Road.

“It’s running on a timing sequence that’s pre-programmed, so it’s not adapting to the traffic we’re seeing,” Riggs said.

“The timing is not optimized for the traffic.”

While the contractor installs the lights this week, an INDOT technician will resequence the signals at all three intersections next week, Riggs said.

Underground sensors will detect traffic, so the lights will be responsive to high-traffic volume.

While technically an INDOT employee could resequence the light at McKenzie Road for the time being, Riggs said it’s more efficient if all three are done at the same time.

The Greenfield Police Department has been fielding complaints from the public about the traffic.

“Obviously, there are people upset with us, but the city has no control over it,” Chief John Jester said.

Maj. Derek Towle said he’s been speaking with INDOT and is looking forward to when the timing changes.

“It’s backing (traffic) up tremendously,” Towle said.

“I’ve seen numerous times where it backed up as far as McClarnon (Drive) or even past it. That’s a bit further than what we’d normally see.”

And some impatient drivers eager to turn east onto McKenzie Road are taking a short-cut through the CVS parking lot, which concerns Towle.

“The CVS parking lot is there for parking, not for a pass-through,” Towle said.

“That could end up getting somebody hurt or people involved in accidents. … That’s just going to cause more problems.”

Towle suggests people simply be patient at the light or avoid it altogether.

“Find an alternative until that lights get switched around.”