Mayor Tom Henry joined area residents, members of City Council, Indiana Department of Transportation (INDOT) officials, and the City of Fort Wayne’s Public Works Division to break ground for the next phase of the State Boulevard enhancement and realignment project.
Phase II of the project, between Cass Street and Clinton Street, will improve pedestrian, bicycle and vehicular traffic, straighten the curve that’s been the location of numerous accidents and replace a bridge in disrepair.
“Our continued commitment to making lasting and meaningful infrastructure improvements is having a positive impact,” said Mayor Henry. “The next phase of the State Boulevard project will enhance the surrounding neighborhoods and assist us in our proactive economic development efforts to bring new business investments to Fort Wayne and build upon the strong employer base we currently have. By working in a collective manner, we’ve positioned our City as a point of destination for business investment, strong neighborhoods, and unique quality of life amenities for families and individuals.”
The project will replace a bridge that’s nearly 90 years old.. Since the bridge was built in the 1930’s, Federal regulations have changed. To meet the Federal flood requirements, the height of the new bridge must be more than seven feet higher. To minimize the impact of the higher bridge elevation, the new bridge will be relocated to the south, and the existing State Boulevard will become a residential street for the neighborhood. The new roadway will occupy an area where homes were identified for voluntary buyouts and demolition because they were in the flood zone and had experienced repeated flooding through the years.
The new bridge and street enhancements will protect the neighborhood from flooding while improving safety for motorists by realigning the roadway to take out a severe curve, the site of an excessive number of accidents.
“We started planning this project about 12 years ago, and I’m glad to see us moving into the new phase of the project. It took a lot of planning and working with various neighborhoods and groups. In the end, I believe we have a design that we can all be proud of,” said Shan Gunawardena, Director of the Public Works Division for the City of Fort Wayne. “Many of the landscaping and lighting ideas came from the input we received from residents. We appreciate their help and ask for their patience as we move into this phase of construction.”
Phase II of State Boulevard has many enhancements for motorists, pedestrians and residents of the area. Pedestrian improvements include crosswalks, a sidewalk on one side of the road and a trail on the other. The pedestrian infrastructure is separated from vehicle traffic by a park strip. A bridge will cross State to connect the north/south sides of the Pufferbelly Trail.
For motorists, the improvements include an extra travel lane in each direction, the realignment of the road to soften the curve, and a center turn lane where needed.
Aesthetic improvements include landscaping on both sides of the roadway and a center median, additional green space with trees between the new road and the old street, and ornamental street lighting throughout the project.
Phase II will take place over two construction seasons. This year, portions of the new roadway and bridge will be constructed, but the vehicle connections to the new bridge and the construction of the trail bridge will take place in 2020.
The $8.18 million investment is funded 80 percent by the Federal government and 20 percent by the City.
To follow the projects progress visit www.cityoffortwayne.org/state