Westfield considers alternative trail crossing, new neighborhood, concrete facility

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The Westfield City Council made no formal votes Monday night regarding the proposed Somerset development by Silverthorne Homes, Patch Development’s proposed concrete production facility or the potential for signalized crosswalk where the Monon Trail meets 161st Street.

Following is a look at where each project stands.

Monon Trail and 161st Street

John Nail, Westfield’s city engineer, presented a study to the council Monday night that demonstrates how a signalized crosswalk on the Monon Trail might affect traffic at 161st Street.

In February, council members paused work on the design of a $6 million pedestrian underpass at the intersection west of U.S. 31 to consider cheaper alternatives. Although Nail said a crosswalk isn’t the preferred option in terms of traffic, he estimated its total cost would be closer to $200,000.

“We’re a little bit of a victim of our own success. Our trails there are popular and this is clearly our most problematic crossing, at this time,” Nail said. “The Monon (Trail) is a huge amenity in the community. We want to continue to keep that trail safe and well-used.”

Council member Jake Gilbert, who represents the district that includes the intersection, said he received hundreds of emails about the project. Though there are several areas where Monon Trail users affect traffic, he said the intersection with 161st Street has had three vehicle-pedestrian incidents in recent years.

“We know we can’t put a tunnel at every single intersection, but of all the intersections in Westfield, this one is the most problematic,” Gilbert said. “I think everyone agrees.”

Nail estimated next year’s average daily traffic count along 161st Street would be roughly 13,500 vehicles, and a 2017 Indiana Trail Study estimated there are roughly 25,000 Monon Trail users per month. He said, at those rates, a signalized crosswalk would cause westbound traffic to back up past U.S. 31. He said, for that reason, pursuing the tunnel would be the preferred option.

Several council members requested the city procure an official estimate for the crosswalk.

Patch Development’s proposed concrete facility

Andrew Greenwood, of Patch Development, introduced his company’s plans for a new concrete production facility in the city’s zoning jurisdiction.

Although the 12-acre property at 1181 W. State Road 32 is adjacent to some commercial uses, the facility would be next to some residences. Greenwood said the plan is to include berms that are at least 20 feet high to obstruct the 60-foot-tall facilities at the center of the property.

Greenwood said there will be 10 employees at the facility. The business will use six trucks.

“There’s quite a bit of blowback on this, as you might imagine. I would hope that we give you a fair hearing, but I don’t want to lead you on to think this might be approved,” council member Joe Edwards said.

Council member Cindy Spoljaric said she had several issues with the project, but was most concerned that Patch was proposing a significant open industrial use in a village area.

The project is scheduled to go before the Westfield Plan Commission on Dec. 7.

Somerset neighborhood

Silverthorne Homes, a division of Indianapolis-based Arbor Homes, presented plans for a 61-acre residential project near East 186th Street and Spring Mill Road. The proposed 151 single-family homes in the Somerset community would range in average price from $280,000 to $360,000.

The project is designed with about 14 acres dedicated to common areas, including lakes and other passive recreation areas. The plan will be heard by the city’s plan commission.

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5 thoughts on “Westfield considers alternative trail crossing, new neighborhood, concrete facility

  1. An underpass at Monon Trail and 161st Street would be a tremendous help. The current design, as noted in the article, is problematic. Life safety issues abound, especially for those unused to the area.

  2. Sight distance is poor and the adjacent grade exacerbates this issue. Evenings and low light conditions further impact safe crossing conditions. An overpass is ideal and would best meet long-term needs considering future traffic growth and a wider roadway cross section. An at-grade crosswalk improvement would be less expensive but likely a stop-gap measure that will require future remediation. And, one would assume the potential for injury or loss of life would outweigh a crosswalk solution. Immediate actions could include a well signed four-way stop sign or flashing signal (yes, clearly sign for bikers to stop, too) until a grade separation crossing can be realized.

  3. If 161st Street will continue on the Master Plan as a primary East-West corridor, a crosswalk/4-way stop is a horrible idea and would be a complete waste of money … OUR tax money. Traffic backed up across US 31 would be an horrific addition to already critical traffic issues in that area. The only option that makes any sense is to spend the money for a pedestrian walkway overpass and/or a tunnel for traffic. Otherwise, more serious traffic and political issues will be the result.

  4. Disappointed that this council continues to delay this much-needed project. As stated last night by the city engineer, the outside consulting engineer, the fire chief and the police chief – this is needed now, before a fatality occurs. And it is only going to be more expensive the longer they delay. The previous council approved the tunnel. I wonder if there is a reason this council keeps pushing it off?

  5. Look….here’s a very inexpensive way to assuage all, except for some that cant take 4/5 seconds out of their travel times, for the safety of Monon users. Removable “rumble strips.” Place them on the road in the spring and remove late fall.