FORT WAYNE, Ind. (Indiana’s NewsCenter) – Ever find yourself sitting in traffic at a railroad crossing for more than 10 minutes? That's what's been happening at the crossing on S. Anthony Blvd. At a public meeting at Indiana Tech Wednesday night, city officials claimed to have a solution.
A feasibility study was conducted last year that indicated 50 trains a day, on average, use the Norfolk-Southern railroad tracks that cross S. Anthony Blvd. Close to 14,000 vehicles a day travel on S. Anthony and the train crossing freezes traffic for 10 minutes or longer.
City officials claim building an underpass should solve the problem. DLZ Engineering contractors revealed a plan to build an underpass, widen S. Anthony Blvd., and create a “T” –shaped intersection where S. Anthony and Wayne Trace meet.
Other options were building an overpass with a “T”-shaped intersection at S. Anthony and Wayne Trace, and an underpass with a round-about at the intersection of S. Anthony and Wayne Trace.
Pam Holocher, Deputy Director of Community Development for the City of Fort Wayne, said engineering research showed the underpass and “T” shaped intersection was the best option for area residents.
“The residents in the area wouldn’t feel some of the height issues of having really tall retaining walls that some of the other options would have. They wouldn’t feel like they were in some sort of a cave,” Holocher said. “With the round-about issue, we would have to have really high retaining walls and you wouldn’t be able to see some of the landscape.”
The underpass and “T” intersection was also the least costly and business and resident-friendly option. Holocher and DLZ engineers estimate the project to cost between $18M and $24M.
Many residents brought up concerns of flooding, and if the project would aid that problem. Another concern was addressing eye-sores in the area like the General Electric building and recycling plant. Esley Bratton lives in the Southeast-side community. He said improving the overall look of the community should also be considered in the project.
“I don’t think they’re really thinking about the residents in the area as much as they are just trying to get the traffic to move,” Bratton said. “We're concerned about our property values, and we're not sure that this project that they're doing will address those issues. It's just they're moving the traffic in a different direction and are leaving the eye-sores that are actually causing the area to look bad.”
Bratton said GE should be moved instead of preserved. “That era’s long gone. There’s no reason to preserve that building.” He suggested moving the businesses inside that building to the old industrial-zoned areas where Magnavox used to be. “That’s a lot of under-used property out there that’s already zoned industrial. We have semi-trucks that are coming through residential areas, we have tri-axel trucks dump trucks coming through our residential area, and none of that is going to be addressed by moving Anthony,” Bratton said.
Bratton and other residents brought up other area railroad intersections, like Winter Street, that need some attention as well.
“When a train is stopped at Anthony it’s also stopped there, and it’s just a problem. It’s deteriorated the value of your property. It’s deteriorated your peace of mind in your neighborhood because you’ve got those horns blowing continuously late at night and early in the morning.”
Holocher said the project should not only improve traffic in the area, but should also improve the look and atmosphere of the southeast-side community.
“Not only will it allow business traffic and residential traffic to move more freely, it will give South Anthony and much better appearance and hopefully we'll actually be able to do enough improvement at that area that it will be actually a focal point for South Anthony.”
But both Bratton and Holocher agree that the current conditions are affecting business and housing in the area.
Holocher said before this proposal can move on, all the comments from the community need to be considered and the feasibility study needs to be finalized. The proposal will be presented to the Mayor by the end of this year. If funding is approved and all goes well, Holocher said construction will begin in the next five years.
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