CLARKSVILLE — Change is on its way to the Brown's Station Way corridor, and Clarksville officials are looking for community input on how to shape the area.
How the final product will look exactly is still up in the air. On Monday, the town held an open house at the Clarksville branch of the Jeffersonville Township Public Library to field questions and hear suggestions from members of the community.
"We're just looking for public feedback and input on what the future of this corridor could look like," redevelopment director Dylan Fisher said. "We know we have a couple elements that we have to address sometime in the next five to 10 years, maybe even sooner."
The process began this past May, when the town made contact with engineers at Clark Dietz to conduct preliminary studies and collect data on traffic flow and speed along the roadway, which carries a significant amount of traffic between Clark and Floyd counties.
At the end of June, the project team held its kickoff meeting, with Monday's event marking the first step in gathering public input. By the end of October, the team is expected to finalize recommendations for the project. A final draft is scheduled to be produced in January.
UPDATING VEHICULAR TRAFFIC
One of the main points of emphasis for the project, Fisher said, is the overpass where Lewis and Clark Parkway meets Brown's Station Way.
"It's aging, and we have to make determinations on what we're going to do — whether we're going to replace it or do something different at that intersection," he said.
New Albany residents Amanda and Sean Durkin recently opened Malice Manor on Providence Way, which also shares an intersection with Brown's Station Way near the overpass. The new haunted attraction is in its first year of operation, and the Durkins showed up Monday to see what the town had in mind for the corridor.
The reason they picked the location is because of the convenience provided by Brown's Station Way.
"It's easy access from Sherman Minton, from the Second Street Bridge or from Interstate 65," Amanda Durkin said. "It's a prime location. As of right now, we've not had any problems with anybody finding the building or having access to it. That's why were curious about what they were proposing so we could see how it would affect us."
Among the options presented Monday were a reconstruction of the existing system, the installation of a roundabout, or a traditional four-way stop. Statistics showing how roundabouts can reduce collisions was displayed on a poster and printed handouts.
Rita Thompson has lived just on the other side of that overpass since 1978. In recent years, she agreed that its quality has gone downhill, with potholes being seemingly omnipresent.
Though she said she isn't a fan of the roundabout on Indiana 62 in Jeffersonville, Thompson believes it may be a good fit for Brown's Station Way.
"I don't like the roundabout on 62, but it might not be so bad right there," Thompson said. "It might be a little hard to get used to."
On the opposite end of the spectrum was lifelong resident Gail Rayburn. The roadway, she said, is in need of repairs, but a roundabout is not the answer.
"I do not want to see a roundabout," Rayburn said. "I think they cause more trouble than they help. Sometimes they can be hard to drive and hard to figure out. I definitely do not want a roundabout. I would prefer maybe keeping it as is, maybe tweaking it a little bit, but not a roundabout."
A four-way stop wouldn't be a good fit either, according to Rayburn.
"It would cause more congestion in that area," she said. "It's a well-traveled area. We want something that will flow, not impede traffic."
ENHANCING PEDESTRIAN TRAFFIC
In 2017, a pedestrian walkway that spanned Brown's Station Way to connect North and South Clarksville was struck by a recycling truck. The walkway hasn't been replaced since the collision, causing difficulties for pedestrians looking to cross the roadway safely.
With new developments coming to that section of Clarksville in the form of a new waterfront park and a revitalized downtown area centered around the old Colgate factory, that will soon change, Fisher said.
"Right now, there's millions of dollars both publicly and privately being invested into the Old Clarksville and South Clarksville redevelopment areas," Fisher said. "That portion of town is quite frankly cut off. It's cut in half. There's not great bike and pedestrian connectivity to those areas."
The new growth expected to come to the area provides an opportunity for the town to re-install the walkway, both for safety reasons and convenience.
"We see this as an opportunity to perhaps make connectivity across Brown's Station Way more meaningful and more intentional for our residents," Fisher said. "That way if somebody decides that they want to walk or bike to the park instead of taking the car, crossing Brown's Station Way is no longer unsafe."
Where the walkway will be located, however, is not yet decided. Fisher said the town is currently examining where they can place it to maximize its effectiveness in connecting the community. Its presence, he added, will also help reduce traffic, thus adding to the safety of the roadway.
"We know that with the pending growth and redevelopment activities in those areas that more people will be trying to access the southern portions and Old Clarksville portions of our community," he said. "Being able to provide alternative modes of transportation between bike and pedestrian to get them safely across Brown's Station Way is a viable means to help decrease vehicular traffic and congestion in those areas."