Editorial: State, county collaboration key to fixing intersection

After a Columbus teen unfortunately lost his life at a busy intersection just north of Columbus on March 24, which also injured three of his friends, county officials rightly and immediately began looking at what could be done to prevent additional tragedies.

The intersection of Marr Road and County Road 550N is a problematic area for motorists. It’s one of the busiest stretches of road in the county. Traffic that runs north and south on Marr Road does not stop for vehicles traveling east or west on County Road 550N. Many motorists have become confused about whether the intersection is a two-way or four-way stop. (County Road 550N has stop signs; Marr Road does not.)

The fatality represented the third accident at the intersection since the start of the year.

Suggested improvements have included increasing police patrols to installing stoplights.

Installing stoplights, which are controlled by the state Department of Transportation (INDOT), would require multi-government communication and cooperation before anything could be done to make a significant safety change at the intersection.

While that might seem to make stoplights unlikely, consider that a similar situation in Taylorsville has fostered a closer relationship between INDOT and the Bartholomew County Commissioners — something that could help this situation, too.

Former Columbus North basketball star Josh Speidel was seriously injured in 2015 along a stretch of U.S. 31 in Taylorsville, which a study by crash specialists deemed dangerous because conditions provide ample confusion for drivers.

INDOT has jurisdiction over all intersections where county roads meet state highways, and controls approval of any changes.

However, earlier this year INDOT asked the Bartholomew County Commissioners to work as a full partner in future decisions and improvements regarding the Taylorsville intersection. With that partnership in place, it’s sensible for both to also collaborate on the idea of installing stop lights at the intersection of Marr Road and County Road 550N.

When it comes to the safety of motorists, overcoming jurisdictional issues with prudent collaboration is in everyone’s best interests.