New features coming to help students safely cross 136th Street at Carmel High School

CARMEL, Ind. – Hundreds of students will get some help getting to and from school next school year. Carmel is planning to add new features to 136th Street to address pedestrian traffic.

Students at Carmel High School park at the football stadium, north of the high school. Each day begins and ends with a third-of-a-mile walk to and from the parking lot and school. The trip includes crossing 136th Street.

"At the school, we got about 2,500 crossings in the morning and 2,500 crossings in the evening," said Carmel's director of engineering, Jeremy Kashman.

At the peak times, before and after school, crossing guards help control traffic and make sure students cross safely. Guards include police, volunteers and staff with the school. However, there are students who come in late for various reasons or leave early for countless others. Those students have to cross without the help of others.

That's why these improvements are going in place.

The city approved projects in 2017 and bonded the funding for the work. It included enhancements to 136th Street, between Keystone Parkway and Range Line Road.

The high school's resource officer recommended the city look at further work to help students.

Work includes narrowing traveling lanes from 12 feet down to 10 feet. That's leaving extra space to create a median for people on foot to escape traffic half way across the street.

The city is also placing a flashing beacon at the crosswalk where students can press a button and a flashing signal and sign will alert drivers someone is crossing the street.

"Talking with the school resource officer, he felt like something needed to be done and the solution we came up with meets what he thought needed to be done," said Kashman.

The project is expected to cost $2 million, which includes putting a pedestrian bridge over Cool Creek, to keep people from walking in the street.

The city has said it has looked at putting a pedestrian crossing bridge or tunnel to allow students to cross without walking on the street.

Kashman said a tunnel would have to deal with flooding and the bridge needs to meet ADA code and it wouldn't eliminate the need for a cross walk.

"The main thing is even if you did build a bridge you would still need a redundant crosswalk down below," he said. "Generally speaking, if you watch how students, high school or college students, walk, they’re generally going to take the quickest path. "You would have to do a lot of odd restraining to get kids to go to the actual location you want them to go to."

Carmel Clay Schools superintendent Michael Beresfold said the student advisory group has asked for new features to the road to help them cross safely.

"You’re always looking to make improvements before accidents happen," said Beresfold. "So proactively, it’s a great thing."

Students after school Friday said they felt safe with how the process works already and added students know what to look out for when crossing guards aren't there. They added drivers also are alert and pay attention since the area is in a school zone.

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