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Broadway merchants uneasy  now that stoplights gone

Charles Surney owner Central Paint   Supply talks about removal stop light near his store 16th Broadway Gary. |

Charles Surney owner of Central Paint & Supply talks about the removal of the stop light near his store at 16th and Broadway in Gary. | Jim Karczewski\For Sun-Times Media

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Updated: April 10, 2014 9:51AM



GARY — The new stoplight-free stretch of Broadway in Midtown may be more efficient, but business owners there aren’t happy that the lights are gone.

The Indiana Department of Transportation has removed the stoplights at 16th, 17th, 18th, 22nd, 23rd and 24th avenues in partnership with the city. Broadway now has the right of way and two-way stop signs — one regular, one up high where the stoplights used to be — are at those intersections.

Additional safety measures will be eventually be installed for east-west traffic, including “stop ahead” signs, city officials said.

For Charles Surney, who owns Central Paint and Supply at 1609 Broadway, removing the stoplights makes traffic conditions along Broadway more dangerous, saying he has already seen several near accidents at the intersection.

“The light right here (at 16th) was the first one to be removed, and that day I saw a school bus almost get hit by a guy who was going south,” Surney, 74, said. “Another time, a fire truck couldn’t get through because people weren’t obeying the new signs.”

The merchants are concerned that faster traffic on Broadway means drivers are more likely to drive past the few businesses left in that stretch. One business owner, who declined to be identified, said there’s nothing much to see as it is.

“There’s really nothing but vacant lots left, and if people don’t have to stop, they’re not going to see what’s here,” he said.

Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson disagreed, saying she understands the owner’s concerns but stands by the decision.

“There are half the number of people there than when the lights were put in. It’s infrastructure, and we don’t need it,” she said. “And anyway, businesses like Mr. Surney’s have been there forever, so if people don’t know he’s there they aren’t paying attention.”

Surney, who has been at his Broadway store since 1985, isn’t against removing the lights but said someone needs to make sure the speed limit is better enforced.

“Vacant lots don’t buy paint, and my whole thing is, if you can’t do it right, the people you have left are going to start to leave,” he said.



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