AUBURN — A project that will restrict left turns at the Kroger plaza on West 7th Street will begin the week of Nov. 11.
Lane dividers will be installed from a point west of the plaza entrance, in front of a Subway restaurant, all the way to the intersection of 7th Street and Grandstaff Drive.
The dividers will prevent westbound traffic from turning left into the Kroger plaza on the south side of 7th Street.
Eastbound traffic still will be able to turn left into the West Edge plaza on the north side of 7th Street.
Drivers will not be allowed to turn left onto 7th Street when exiting either the Kroger or West Edge plaza. Exit lanes will be redesigned to make it easier to turn right.
A study of crashes at the site led to the changes, said Nichole Hacha-Thomas, spokesperson for the Indiana Department of Transportation’s Fort Wayne District. The study found 44 collisions at the site in a five-year period, she said.
“It was a high enough rate that it is something we wanted to basically control the traffic movement,” she said about the upcoming project.
Although none of the crashes were fatal, she said, “That doesn’t mean the next one wouldn’t be, so we want to make sure that everybody gets home safely, and also to their destination safely.”
She added, “People are going to have to relearn how to enter and exit both of those plazas. … It’s all in the name of safety.”
“We did work with the city to see if this was something they would be amenable to,” Hacha-Thomas said. Suggestions from Auburn city officials led to a change in design that will allow eastbound drivers to turn left to enter West Edge shopping center.
The project will install a “modular curb” with plastic poles inserted into concrete dividers.
The installation should take about two weeks, weather permitting, Hacha-Thomas said.