State Blvd. is Heading in a New Direction, Residents Speak Out

By Rachel Martin

February 24, 2013 Updated Feb 26, 2013 at 12:15 AM EDT

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (www.incnow.tv) – The Division of Public Works holds an open house Monday night showing off the plans for State Boulevard.

Is State Boulevard headed in a new direction? That’s the idea the Division of Public Works proposed at its first open house Monday night. The purpose was to showcase designs and receive community feedback before City Council takes a final vote.

These particular plans have been in discussion since 2008, and City Council approved the idea of reconstruction in 2009. However, Frank Suarez, Public Information Officer for the Division of Public Works, says the city’s only half way through the reconstruction plan.

City officials propose re-directing traffic onto a five-lane road to help minimize traffic through the historic Brookview neighborhood. There will be two lanes heading in both directions and a center lane for left-hand turns. The sharp curve along State Blvd. between Wells St. and Clinton St. will be closed off to preserve the neighborhood and prevent crashes, and there will be a connecting lane from the neighborhood to State Blvd.

“There’s a realignment plan for safety. This is for pedestrian as well as traffic safety,” said Suarez. “This area has had a number of accidents. It backs up coming from a four-lane to a two-lane that funnels into this area, that’s what this is trying to address.”

The plans also include rebuilding the bridge approximately 17 feet higher over Spy Run Creek to help with flooding.

“It’s not going to solve flooding, but it will give it more space to go under the bridge. The bridge has had to be closed over the years,” said Suarez.

Suarez says most of the residents in the Brookview neighborhood are in favor of the proposed plans, but there are some who oppose it.

Eileen Lee lives north of State Blvd., and says she’s afraid the plans will create more traffic in the area, and that City officials are ultimately setting up State Blvd. to be used as a truck route or highway.

"It's going to destroy our neighborhood and probably other neighborhoods down the line. It's a highway. I think that’s not the right thing to put in the neighborhood,” said Lee. “I know we have problems with water during flooding. I know we have occasional back-ups during the day so they need to do something, but this plan to me is just not right at all. I would have them stop and start all over.”

“Certainly this is not going to be a truck route. It is for local delivery now because there are businesses both east and west of this area,” said Suarez.

Peggy Roy and Joe Sale live south of State Blvd. Roy says her family’s lived there since 1997, and both her and Sale’s homes were part of the buy-out in the 2006 flood. Roy says the City pulled the plug on the arrangement and they’ve been in “limbo” since. Roy and Sale say they’re happy with the proposals.

"The plans and pictures that are here tonight, I just don't see how there could be any opposition. They look fabulous. If this is their plan, I think it's great!” said Roy. “This can only help. It’s not going to hurt.”

City officials say approximately 17,000 cars travel along State Blvd. per day. Sale says there’s been five accidents along the curve since Christmas. He thinks the realignment should help to open up traffic flow.

“People aren’t going to come off that hill going too fast and hit the guard rail,” he said. “Right now it takes 10 minutes for my wife to turn left to take my son to school every morning, and every morning it takes me 10 minuets to turn left to go to work. These plans are perfect.”

Suarez says the speed limit on the realigned portion of State Blvd. will remain at 30 mph. If approved by City Council, construction should begin in 2015. The Division of Public Works will hold another open house Friday, March 1 at 11 a.m. at the downtown library.

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