Coldwater construction prompts drivers to create shortcut

Drivers have created a shortcut near an apartment complex at Coldwater and Essex.

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – Traffic congestion on Coldwater has caused some drivers to find their own route. They’re driving through the grass near an apartment complex and that is causing problems and putting people in danger.

The stretch of Coldwater Road undergoing improvements runs from Washington Center Road to Coliseum Boulevard. The $4.1 million project is divided into two phases. The first phase is focused between Coliseum Boulevard and Essex Lane.

Early Friday morning a Newschannel 15 photographer captured video of a car heading north on Coldwater. Instead of turning left on Essex, the driver turned into O’Reilly Auto Parts parking lot and drove through the grass to Tara Cooperative Apartments. The complex entrance let’s drivers out on Essex or they can drive straight ahead to Coldwater Crossing shopping center.

As our cameras were rolling, we saw at least 10 cars take the shortcut in about 15 minutes. We caught up with one man who said this was only the second time he has taken the shortcut but he was in a hurry to get lunch and return to work.

“ I knew it was there from yesterday because a lot of guys use this,” said Michael Storch. “I shouldn’t be doing that. I am an offender.”

That portion of the lot is owned by O’Reilly Auto Parts. Employees there have been frustrated over the last two weeks, watching cars pass through. One employee who did not want to be identified said he is concerned about the safety of pedestrians.

“ Just be patient,” he said. “Sit through the traffic. There are people out there that can’t drive or don’t drive and walk through this lot to get to places they need to be. So we have to look out for their safety.”

The city of Fort Wayne’s Traffic Engineering Department said they work on aware of the problem. A spokesman said construction crews try their best to work with residents and businesses.

The project includes 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.