Crews, businesses prepare for Coldwater Road improvement project

Artist rendering of landscaping additions that will be part of the Coldwater Road improvement project.

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE)  A major improvement project involving a busy stretch of Coldwater Road is getting started this week.

The stretch of Coldwater Road undergoing improvements runs from Washington Center Road to Coliseum Boulevard.

The $4.165 million project will be broken up into two phases. The first phase will be focused between Coliseum Boulevard and Essex Lane.

The project will include improvements for both drivers and pedestrians.

Construction crews will resurface the road and add new storm drainage. The road will also get new turn lanes at four intersections in phase one. Those intersections will feature new blinking yellow turn lights and a better line of sight for drivers.

Pedestrian improvements include new crosswalk safety signals and refuge islands at the busy midpoints of the intersections.

Justin Lovins walks to work each day and has to cross Coldwater Road four times. He said the new crosswalks will be an improvement to how it is now.

“That might be a little bit helpful,” Justin Lovins said. “It’ll just let people know people are crossing right here. It gives a little bit of a chance to get across the street a little bit quicker.”

The project will also add some visual upgrades, including new landscaping and trees in the median.

Lane closures in both directions are expected to start Wednesday to kick off the improvement project.

City officials say 27-thousand vehicles drive in this section of Coldwater every day, so lane restrictions are likely to cause some traffic issues.

“Yes there are some neighboring roads that will take the brunt of the extra traffic,” Frank Suarez, a representative for public works said. “But we’re hoping that motorists will just be patient, that they’ll leave early, plan for a little bit of additional time in their travel and to be safe.”

But at least one business owner on Coldwater Road is still concerned about how traffic will impact his business.

“It scares me,” Tom Litchin, owner of Mr. Coney said.

Litchin has already been warning customers and trying to spread information about an alternative entrance to his restaurant behind the building, but the unknown is till daunting.

“I have no idea what to expect. Once they shut down one lane each way…I don’t know,” Litchin said.

Suarez said city officials are aware of the many concerns surrounding the project, but the improvements are necessary.

“We’re trying to fix a surface that needs to be repaired,” Suarez explained. “The alternative would be to not fix it, but I don’t think anybody would accept that.”

Phase one is expected to be completed in July. Crews hope to finish the whole project by November.