Town looks to road improvements

0
1776

Broadway Street in Fortville, shown in this rendering at its intersection with Maple Street, is going from a four-lane road to two with a center left-turn lane. Maple Street at the intersection is also getting dedicated left-turn lanes to alleviate the traffic congestion that often occurs there.

Submitted image

FORTVILLE — Plans are picking up speed for an extensive road project in Fortville slated to start next year.

A long stretch of deteriorating U.S. 36, known as Broadway Street in town, will be reconstructed and get a new multi-use path and sidewalk along its borders. Improvements are also coming to the thoroughfare’s intersection with Maple Street to free the long queues that are common there.

The Indiana Department of Transportation is sponsoring the project, estimated at over $8.3 million, with funding from the Federal Highway Administration along with state and local sources.

INDOT and the engineering firm assisting the department held a public hearing on the project Wednesday night that drew town residents and officials.

The bulk of the project’s cost — estimated at about $5.5 million — will come from reconstructing Broadway between Garden Street and Madison Street, or State Road 13.

It’s needed, project organizers say, due to the deteriorated condition of the roadway.

Broadway’s existing surface in that area will be removed and replaced with 4 inches of compacted aggregate and 13 inches of hot mix asphalt.

The project will reduce the number of through travel lanes from four to an 11-foot-wide lane in each direction along with a 14-foot-wide center two-way turn lane. New curbs and gutters as well as drainage improvements are part of the job as well.

Organizers aim to remedy a lack of pedestrian connectivity in the area by bringing a paved multi-use path 10 to 13 feet wide on the north side of Broadway with amenities like decorative lighting, benches, bike racks and trash receptacles. Ramps that comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act will also be installed at street crossings.

A 6-foot-wide concrete sidewalk will span along Broadway’s south side from just east of Garden Street to Elm Street.

The pedestrian improvements, estimated to cost about $2.5 million, are backed by funds from Fortville and the town’s inclusion in Indiana’s Stellar Communities Program.

Maple Street currently has a northbound and southbound lane with no left-turn lanes at its approaches to Broadway. Left turns onto Broadway reduce Maple Street’s capacity, causing traffic signal failure and vehicle queue lengths of 800 to 1,000 feet.

To improve that, Maple Street will be widened to accommodate a 10-foot-wide travel lane in each direction and a 10-foot-wide left-turn lane at each approach.

The existing 8-foot-wide parking lane at the southwest quadrant of the intersection will be maintained.

The intersection’s existing signal and equipment will be replaced as well.

Both sides of Maple Street will get 6-foot-wide concrete sidewalks from High Street to over 200 feet north of Broadway. New ADA curb ramps will be added at the northeast and southeast corners of Maple and High Streets.

The intersection improvements are estimated at about $380,000.

To allow for Maple Street’s widening, 0.09 acres of permanent right-of-way will need to be secured on the intersection’s east side, all from commercial properties. Another 0.04 acres of temporary right-of-way will be needed on the west side.

“Not terribly much as part of this overall project,” said Trevor Wieseke of Lochmueller Group, Inc., the project’s environmental team lead.

Wieseke said right-of-way acquisition will follow federal law, which requires appraisal and an offer that can’t be less than fair market value. If an agreement can’t be reached, a mediation process would follow and if that fails, condemnation proceedings would ensue.

At the public hearing, Bob Ferrell spoke on behalf of Lenzy Hendrix, who owns the property housing Sunrise Bakery at the northeast corner of Maple and Broadway Streets. Ferrell relayed a suggestion from Hendrix that Maple Street’s proposed new center line appears to be misaligned north and south of Broadway, and that by moving it farther west on the north side would align it better and require less right-of-way to be secured from his property.

“That would take less of his property, which is minimum to begin with, and it doesn’t seem to me that it would be taking any critical real estate away from the bank,” Ferrell said, referring to the Greenfield Banking Company branch across Maple Street from the bakery.

Broadway’s reconstruction will consist of two phases. The first will close eastbound traffic while the new eastbound and center lanes are constructed. The detour for eastbound traffic will consist of State Road 234 and State Road 9. The westbound lane will remain open. Business access will be maintained on both sides of Broadway from the westbound travel lane.

During the second phase, which includes the westbound lane’s construction, one traffic lane in each direction will remain open, and no detour will be required.

Maple Street will be closed to through traffic during the intersection improvements, and a detour using roads in the area will be made up of over 6 miles. Access to adjacent properties will be maintained throughout the construction.

Also during the public hearing, attendees expressed concerns over road cuts to properties they own and expressed a desire for further pedestrian accommodations throughout the project area, like activated crosswalks.

The project’s plans and more information are available at in.gov/indot/2704.htm and the Fortville-Vernon Township Public Library, located at 625 E. Broadway St.

Organizers will continue to receive feedback on the project through March 18, which they’ll use to finalize the design and environmental documentation that will be made publicly available.

Comments can be emailed to Chris Kunkel at [email protected] or Don McGhghy at [email protected].

Comments can also be mailed to Chris Kunkel at 3502 Woodview Trace, Suite 150, Indianapolis, IN 46268. They must be postmarked by March 18.

Those with questions on the project can contact INDOT Customer Service at 1-855-INDOT-4-U (1-855-463-6848), [email protected]; or Chris Kunkel at 317-334-6818.

Right-of-way acquisition will follow the finalized design, with construction slated to start in spring 2023.