Out of the Archives- Traffic Control by Hannah Castor

Out of the Archives- Traffic Control by Hannah Castor

While researching in the IU East library archives, I discovered a folder labeled “Traffic Light” located in the box “IU East Campus Construction.” I was originally looking for IU East building sketches, but curious, I started looking through the papers included in the “Traffic Light” folder and soon discovered that the folder is dedicated to both plans and reasons for putting in a traffic light at the intersection of Chester Blvd. and Horizons Parkway. I was surprised to find that there was not always a traffic light at this intersection, and reading through parts of the proposal, I discovered there were numerous accidents at the intersection, prompting the traffic light proposal to reach a new level of concern.

The document titled “Traffic Light Proposal” written by Stephen Roth (then Director of Admissions) revealed that IU East proposed the addition of a traffic light in 1981 where it now is due to traffic congestion and a “near fatal accident of two students.” Before the light was installed, “students would leave the university to go south by turning right, going north to the Second National Bank, and turning around there to enter the highway safely for the trip south” (Roth, 1981). Art Vivian was involved in contacting the City Engineer, George Webb, to discuss the details of the new light. The proposal of a new traffic light was first put in during 1977 but did not come to fruition due to a lack of funding. Surrounding businesses and residents were all surveyed concerning the addition of a traffic light, and the only surrounding business that objected to the light was a dentistry run by Dr. Delynn Stults. Dr. Stults opposed the light because it would inconvenience his access to Highway 27 North.

Residents were also surveyed concerning the light, and one couple—Mr. and Mrs. Scarborough who lived on 2401 Chester Blvd.—”reported that after experiencing six accidents involving others, they have become tired of pulling people out of wrecked vehicles, administering first aid, and waiting for an ambulance” (Roth, 1981). IU East students were also surveyed, and the majority of them supported the addition of the traffic light. Surveys were given to students who took both day and night classes asking if they or someone they knew had been involved in an accident or almost had an accident at the intersection in question and if there should be a light installed. According to the Survey Report, over half of students asked enrolled in both day and night classes reported they knew someone who almost had an accident at the intersection, and a total of 84% said there should be a light installed. Only 6% of all students surveyed were personally involved in an accident.

A letter written to J. Terry Clapacs—then Vice President for Physical Facilities—from Chancellor Charlie Nelms revealed the total cost of this new light was $40,000. IU East and the Indiana Vocational Technical College both paid $16,250, and Ponderosa paid the remaining $7,000. It was interesting to discover that there was not always a traffic light at the intersection I have come to know so well, and I cannot imagine the chaos that would regularly occur if there was no light there at present. I enjoyed reading through some of the survey results within the traffic light proposal, especially the quote given by the irritated Mr. and Mrs. Scarborough. This is just one of the many interesting finds I have discovered during my research in the IU East library archives, which is one of many reasons I have greatly enjoyed my summer thus far.

Source: Roth, Stephen. 1981, August 28. Traffic Light Proposal. IU East Campus Construction (2010.001, MRG 2.06, Box 2, Traffic Light) Indiana University East Archives, Richmond, Indiana.

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