Some drivers in Columbus could be stopped for up to 40 minutes nearly every hour of the day at the Jonathan Moore Pike and State Road 11 intersection.
That’s under the plans for increased train traffic by CSX railroad along the Louisville & Indiana railroad line through the city starting next year.
Dave Hayward, the Columbus city engineer and director of public works, said that state and railroad officials didn’t look at the entire impact of the increased train traffic which will cause an accordion-like effect with drivers at the very end of the stalled traffic suffering through long waits. CSX is expecting 22 or more trains a day through Columbus.
Based on modeling software used by the city, during peak driving hours each of the long, slow trains could end up with drivers backed up to Walmart or further on Jonathan Moore Pike/State Road 46.
Hayward said officials only focused on the drivers inconvenienced at the stopping gate itself, and not those who line up behind those first drivers.
Hayward and Heather Pope, the city’s redevelopment director, made a presentation last night to a joint meeting of the Columbus and Bartholomew County plan commissions.
The state prepared a plan to build an overpass around the intersection of State Road 11, Jonathan Moore Pike/State Road 46 and Second and Third streets, but at a cost of $35 million. It was assigned a low priority because of the state’s assumption that the traffic impact would be minimal, Hayward said.
Even if the project were approved today and in the state pipeline for projects, it would still be six or seven years from construction, Hayward said.