FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) Fort Wayne reached a record number of neighborhood infrastructure improvements in 2014. Mayor Tom Henry announced that this year’s construction season is nearly over with more than $20 million invested in more than 140 neighborhoods throughout the city. In 2013, the city spent about $4 or $5 million on projects.
“I’m encouraged by the positive momentum we continue to see as we invest in our future,” Mayor Tom Henry said. “By working together we’re a leader in focusing on neighborhoods, building our excellent quality of life, and positioning Fort Wayne for economic and job growth.”
More than 300 construction jobs were created through the projects. Highlights include 50 miles of paving, 10 miles of concrete reconstruction, brick street work, 12 miles of chip and seal repairs, sidewalk improvements and more.
For people who live on Madison Street just south of downtown, the improvements are making a big difference. The city decided to fix roads that were deemed poor or very poor this year. That meant first fixing the stretch of Madison that runs from Francis to Division. Warren Shannon has lived on that stretch of Madison Street for 20 years.
“We had some rough chuckholes into it and it was all cracked up. Around the drains and stuff was a really bad situation. During the winter time, it made it rough because you get stuck in some of the pot holes that were in the road. Now, it’s a lot smoother,” Shannon said.
Shannon said the city did an excellent job on the project.
“They came out and it took them about 2 ½ to 3 weeks to get it done, but they got it all resurfaced. Now it’s just nice and smooth. You don’t have to worry about those big holes and stuff. I’d come out about every day and watch them put down the surface, dig up the old road, and haul it out. They did a fantastic job. The crew kept pretty busy all the time, so they got their job done. They got in, they got out, and they got going down the road. I think it’ll make a better neighborhood,” Shannon said.
Adil Bakr is a senior at North Side High School. He’s lived on the street for two years. He said the road used to prevent him from driving to school because it was so bad.
“It was a lot different. It was hard to drive around and other things, especially in the different weather conditions. It was very dangerous. I couldn’t even drive last winter because there was hard conditions. I think it’s a lot better because this last couple days when it snowed, it melted so fast and I think the street was nice and ready to drive around,” Bakr said.
Jessie Baker has called Madison Street home for nearly four decades. Baker approves of the changes, but is still waiting for the city to work on his section of the neighborhood.
“The section that they did looks real nice. They just need to continue to come on down and do a little further. They stopped a little shorter. If they’d come a little further and do my section, it’d be a little better,” Baker said.
Despite the wait, Baker thinks the improvements mean positive changes for his community.
“It makes the neighborhood look a lot better and everything. Nice street, nice curves and gutters, it makes it look real good,” Baker said.
The city has $20 million budgeted for next year’s improvements as well. That list of projects has yet to be released, but Baker is very hopeful his block will be included.