Residents on Union Chapel Road May Lose Homes

"Progress Will Come Whether You Like It Or Not"

By Brien McElhatten

July 14, 2010 Updated Jul 14, 2010 at 5:16 PM EDT

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (Indiana's NewsCenter) - A plan aimed at reducing congestion on Dupont Road and Interstate 69 is moving forward, leaving homes at risk.

Engineers will soon begin designing a "diverging diamond" interchange to be built at I-69 and Dupont Road with another interchange planned for I-69 and Union Chapel Road.

Indiana's NewsCenter was first to report the proposal last winter and the initial approval for further planning on Tuesday.

The interchanges are designed to reduce traffic congestion at the Dupont exit by giving vehicles another way by which to exit, but some residents may lose their homes in the process.

"There's no point in getting worked up about it," said Ken Bechley, who's property brushes up against the Union Chapel bridge over I-69.

"Progress will come whether you like it or not."

Bechley has lived in his modest ranch-style home since he built it in 1971. Now, as the design phase of the interchange project begins, he may soon know whether his property will be bought to make room for the new exit.

INDOT officials admit they may need to "relocate" four to six homes along Union Chapel Road, but say they will work to minimize the number of properties that will need to be acquired.

Designers are looking at two options. Those include a "thin diamond" interchange or several roundabouts similar to the ones in Carmel, just north of Indianapolis.

Those designs would require less space than other interchange designs, meaning fewer properties would need to be purchased.

Further surveys will be conducted to determine how many properties will be effected.

Construction on the $2.35 million project is expected to begin in 2012, with final completion anticipated later that year.

At least one public hearing will be scheduled, final approval on the project is still pending.

As for Bechley, he's seen the process unfold before. His father owned a farm on the east side of what is now I-69. That farm was purchased by the state to make room for the highway.

"You really have no control over it," said Bechley. "You can't really say ok, this is what I'm going to do and this is how I'm going to handle it. It doesn't work that way."

Bechley says some of his neighbors are upset over the prospect of losing their land, but he says he'll wait until the plan is explained to him and an offer is made before he makes up his mind.

Stay with Indiana's NewsCenter for further updates.

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