Traffic notebook: Added stops at Maxwell-Sheridan to be weighed by Bloomington city council

Probably at its regular meeting next week (Oct. 19), Bloomington’s city council will give a first reading to an ordinance that would make the intersection at Maxwell Lane and Sheridan Drive an all-way stop.

Currently it’s a two-way stop, which requires traffic on Sheridan to stop at Maxwell. The added stop signs would also require Maxwell traffic to stop at Sheridan.

The impetus to add the all-way stop comes from neighbors who find that they have to “scurry” across Maxwell, because traffic coming from the uphill side of the road, that is from the west, is not visible until it’s close to the intersection.

As nearby resident Stephanie Hatton put it, when she addressed Bloomington’s traffic commission in late July, “We feel that the only way to make this intersection truly safe for all is to legally require vehicles to cease—not just slow down or be calmed.”

Hatton added, “An all-way stop ensures pedestrians of all ages and abilities have the time and right-of-way to cross safely.”

A first reading next week would cue up a possible vote at the council’s Nov. 2 meeting, to enact the additional stop signs.

At the city council’s noon work session last Friday, city council attorney Stephen Lucas described the ordinance to be introduced as sponsored by Dave Rollo, whose district includes the intersection.

It’s not a surprise that the ordinance is being proposed and that Rollo is sponsoring it. Like Hatton, Rollo had spoken during public commentary at the late July meeting of the city’s traffic commission. Rollo indicated at that time that he would be willing to sponsor an ordinance to add stop signs at the intersection.

At that July meeting, the traffic commission voted 5–2 to support the engineering department’s staff written recommendation against making the Maxwell-Sheridan intersection an all-way stop.

The engineering staff recommendation states “[T]his intersection does not meet the MUTCD (Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices) guidelines for all-way stop control…”

The MUTCD gives criteria defining when all-way stops are warranted.

Among the criteria are the number of crashes recorded at the intersection. If five or more crashes have taken place in a 12-month period, that could be corrected by a multi-way stop installation, then a stop sign is warranted. But as of the traffic commission’s July meeting, no crashes had been recorded for that intersection for the last five years.

The intersection also does not meet the MUTCD criteria for minimum traffic volumes.

But the recommendation from engineering staff does not indicate strong opposition to making the intersection an all-way stop. The recommendation starts like this, “Staff acknowledges the unique traffic pattern at this intersection and does not have significant concerns if an all-way stop is installed.”

At last Friday’s city council work session, Lucas said he believes the engineering staff’s position to be that if the city council deems the Maxwell-Sheridan intersection to be an appropriate location for an all-way stop, it would not cause any major issues.

Lucas added that engineering staff does have general concerns about all-way stops at locations that don’t meet the criteria.

4 thoughts on “Traffic notebook: Added stops at Maxwell-Sheridan to be weighed by Bloomington city council

  1. Since it doesn’t meet the guidelines, I wonder if the city could be sued for damages if a driver ran the stop sign and had an accident.

    1. As I understand it, the guidelines are minimal standards; we have other intersections that “exceed” standards in this way. The MUTCD guidelines specifically allow for consideration of pedestrian and left-turn conflicts beyond the basic traffic volume criteria.

      Maxwell and Sheridan is also a tough left turn for those driving south on Sheridan: there is minimal visibility west, and cars do occasionally barrel over the hill there. It would be wise, I think, both to have a four-way stop and also to install a stop warning sign just over the crest of the hill, so drivers are warned to slow down before they need to brake sharply.

    2. I was not present, but I have heard that Andrew Cibor agreed that there was in issue with this intersection due to the proximity of the intersection to the peak of the hill. Stephanie Hatton, whom others have lauded as one of the best prepared citizen participants that they have ever encountered, noted that the incline of the street is so high that some potential solutions are ruled out.

      ‘Thanks’ to Dave Rollo for sponsoring a solution when the City of Bloomington staff would not.

  2. Going up a steep hill and stopping at the top? Nope. Tricky and hard for bicyclists and those driving stick.

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