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Editorial columns

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Making State urban highway an urban myth

Much misinformation and many misconceptions are circulating over the State Boulevard project. The city does not have plans to make State an urban highway, a six-lane freeway, a widened street to Coliseum Boulevard or a truck route.

The Northeast Indiana Regional Coordinating Council cannot designate local and through routes. That’s a City Council decision.

The city abides by the Bus and Truck Route Plan, adopted by City Council and found in Chapter 73 of the City Code of Ordinances.

City Ordinance 73.28 establishes through truck routes and 73.29 identifies local delivery routes.

Through truck routes in Fort Wayne are limited to federal and state highways and a few city streets in industrial areas.

Local delivery routes allow for the transfer of goods and services to businesses while preserving the quality of life in neighborhoods.

State Boulevard is not designated for through trucks, and there is absolutely no plan to designate it in that way. In 2005, the existing truck ordinance received unanimous approval from the City Council.

Planned improvements for West State Boulevard between Cass Street and Spy Run Avenue will address safety concerns.

The project will replace an 80-year-old bridge that’s in disrepair. Since the bridge was built in the 1930s, federal regulations have changed. To meet federal flood requirements, the new bridge must be built seven feet higher. The area of State Boulevard to be improved also has had an unacceptable number of accidents. The new bridge and street enhancements will protect the neighborhood from flooding while improving safety for motorists and pedestrians.

To minimize the effect of the higher bridge elevation and to preserve the integrity of the historical street layout, the new bridge will be relocated just to the south and the existing State will become a residential street at the Brookview neighborhood. This relocation will preserve homes on the north side of State while the new roadway will occupy an area, to the south, where homes were identified for voluntary buyout for flood protection.

In designing the roadway features, the city had more than 30 meetings with residents, historic preservation groups and other interested parties, including eight with Brookview Neighborhood Association board members.

In October 2011, nearly 100 people gave detailed input to enhance the project.

Their input resulted in additional design elements that offer traffic-calming features such as landscaping on both sides of the roadway and in a median, ornamental street lighting, crosswalks, sidewalks separated by a park strip, a turn lane at the entrance to the Brookview neighborhood, a beautifully landscaped park setting to separate the new bridge from the current curve, and connections for safe and easy access to the trail system. These elements will keep traffic moving at safe speeds and enhance the neighborhood.

The city values its neighborhoods and works closely with residents on all projects. Improvements to West State Boulevard will protect motorists, pedestrians and homes between Cass and Spy Run but will not turn State into a truck route.

Only the City Council can do that.

The mayor and the Council have made it clear, in City Code Chapter 73, that State is for local deliveries only and there are no plans to make it an urban highway.

Bob Kennedy is director of public works for the city of Fort Wayne. He wrote this for The Journal Gazette.

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