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Franklin widens proposed Main Street lanes

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Franklin will rework construction plans for the next section of Main Street after residents complained that the first section of the roadway that was redone is now too narrow.

The street in downtown Franklin reopened in November after months of construction, and motorists have noticed the lanes they now drive on aren’t as wide as before the work started.

The city reduced the size of each lane by as much as 4 feet as a way to slow traffic in residential areas where children live and to meet state requirements, Franklin Street Commissioner Ron Collins said.

Now, the city is looking to redesign the project to make each lane about a foot wider, adding to the total project cost and possibly taking out a few more trees.


Main Street project Phase 1

Where: Between Jefferson and Graham streets

When: Franklin started construction in June and hopes to finish by the end of the year.

Lane width before construction: Between 12 and 15 feet

Lane width after construction: 11 feet

Main Street project Phase 2

Where: Between Graham Street and U.S. 31

When: The city plans to start construction on the project in 2014.

Lane width before construction:

Up to 16 feet

Lane width after construction:

12 feet

Why: Indiana Department of Transportation guidelines say driving lanes have to be between 11 and 12 feet wide. Franklin decided to make the lanes on the first phase of the Main Street project 11 feet as a way to slow motorists on the busy street.

What’s changing: City officials have decided to make the lanes on the second phase of the Main Street project 12 feet wide after residents complained the lanes were too narrow.

In October, city officials approved spending $225,000 on the project to repave and redo sidewalks on the south side of Madison Street, because only the north side of the road was included in the original design.

The work to Main Street is being done as part of an overall improvement project, which includes replacing the sewer beneath the street and widening sidewalks. Construction on the first part of Main Street, between Jefferson and Graham streets, will be finished by the end of the year.

Work will begin on the second section, from Graham Street to U.S. 31, in 2014.

The city wanted to make the sidewalks wider to encourage pedestrians to walk along the street. And because the state is funding 80 percent of the project, the lanes had to be narrower after construction, Collins said.

Indiana Department of Transportation guidelines say lanes cannot be wider than 12 feet, and the lanes had been up to 16 feet wide in some sections, he said.

But now, after motorists complained about the narrower street, the city is looking to make the lanes a little wider.

Original plans for the second phase of the Main Street project called for 11-foot lanes like the first phase.

Last week, the city board of works approved making the lanes 12 feet wide instead, which will add about $20,000 to the cost of the project, board member Steve Barnett said.

The wider lanes could cause the city to tear out a few more trees to make room for the extra pavement, Barnett said.

“It’s the main artery into the city. It needs to be 12-foot lanes,” Barnett said.

Making the lanes 12 feet wide also will make the street safer for residents who park on the street, Barnett and Mayor Joe McGuinness said.

“It needs to be a little wider so people can take their time to get out of cars and not be worried about somebody knocking their door off. In my eyes, it’s a safety hazard to not have it a foot wider,” Barnett said.

McGuinness said the 12-foot lanes will be similar in width to other roads.

“It’s already going to be narrowed down from what it currently is. This will make it not such a drastic reduction. Twelve feet was the width I felt was probably best,” he said.

As part of the Main Street project, the city wants to build wider sidewalks, Collins said. If the street is wider and the sidewalks stay the same width as planned, the city will have to get rid of some grass and trees to make up for the change, Collins said.

“We want the walking space for the pedestrians,” he said. “That’s the concept we’ve been going after all along.”

McGuinness and Barnett voted for the 12-foot lanes, while board of works member Bob Swinehamer voted against the change.

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