FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – A long awaited project is expected to clear a big hurdle in the coming weeks, when the results of an environmental impact study are released. The results will allow the city to move forward on an $11 million project to widen and straighten a section of State Boulevard.
The project, which is 80 percent funded through federal dollars, would widen and straighten State Boulevard between Cass Street and Spy Run Avenue. It would also move a small bridge, which currently sits between Eastbrook and Westbrook drive, south. The new bridge would meet federal standards on flooding requirements.
According to Frank Suarez, the spokesperson for the city’s Public Works, the study will answer several questions that residents have wanted answered for quite some time. The results will answer not only how the project will impact Spy Run Creek and the surrounding land, it should also answer how the project will impact both vehicle and pedestrian traffic flow.
One person interested in the results is Brookview Neighborhood Association president Michelle Briggs Wedaman, who said she thinks cars will go faster if the road is widen and straighten. City officials have said the speed limit in the area will not change, and want to make those changes to reduce the number of crashes.
The project, which Suarez said could be three years from completion, also requires the city to purchase several properties in the area. “We’re hoping acquisition could begin this year,” he said. “There’s a number of properties and right of ways we’ll have to acquire.” He added that city officials have kept those property owners updated with where the project stands.
The president of the Brookview Neighborhood Association, where most, if not all the properties that could be bought lie, said if the city is going to buy the homes, she would want it done sooner rather than later.
The proposed project has been in the work for years. Since then, city leaders have held more than 50 meetings with the general public, residents in the impacted area, and historic preservation groups on the project. More public hearings will take place when the environmental impact study, which is currently being reviewed by the Federal Highway Administration, is complete.
“This current plan is great for reinvestment,” Wedaman, the president of the neighborhood association, said. She agrees that the area, especially the outdated bridge, needs improvements. “It’s simply not the right design. We want the design tweaked.”
Wedaman and other opponents of the project have concerns about how the project will impact their property values. They’re also worried that the project will change their residential area, with a park and plenty of green space, into a heavily-traveled highway.
“We’re excited for the project,” Wedaman said. “We just want a redesign that fits the control here and we want it done as quickly as possible.”
Wedaman said she would like the city to work closely with her and other residents to come up with a design that would be more visually appealing.