Pity, with a touch of chagrin. These are my feelings for my neighbors who oppose the West State Boulevard expansion at Eastbrook Drive. Pity they are basing their misinformed decision on ill-educated opinions instead of hard facts; chagrin they would presume to speak for the rest of us who have actually dedicated our time to seeking out the truth. The current slogan for the opposition movement is Hometowns Not Highways! Let me please enlighten my poor, misguided neighbors with facts of which they seem to be completely ignorant.
The proposition to widen State between Clinton and Wells streets will make our neighborhood safer and quieter while increasing our property values. East of Clinton and west of Wells, State is a four-lane street; having it narrow to two lanes between these streets forces thousands of speeding vehicles to cut one another off, take dangerous risks and fly through our neighborhood around the side streets – where my children play – to avoid this extremely congested section of State. The new State will open four lanes further south of our neighborhood, routing this maddening traffic away from our homes and our children. The plans for the new road include a park as well as walking trails expanding on the Rivergreenway paths. They also include a higher bridge with increased room for backwater over Spy Run Creek, decreasing the risk of flooding for those of us who live in the lowest part of this basin.
The section of old State will remain, only now it will offer on-street parking and a safer option for exiting the neighborhood. The two homes directly benefiting from this are occupied by a 93-year-old woman and a man with one leg who currently have to rearrange their schedules to coordinate with the slowest traffic times of day just to have a hope of leaving their homes in one piece.
The houses slated for demolition to accommodate the new road are either rentals or occupied by people – my aunt being one of them – who are happy to leave what has long been a dangerous, noisy place to live. This project does not stand to uproot anyone who already doesn’t want to be there. In addition, the homes set for destruction are in the lowest part of the area and flood first with minimal rainfall.
Anyone who wishes to hear the truth is welcome to call Shan Gunawardena, Fort Wayne’s traffic engineer; he can be reached at 427-6169 or email@example.com. He offered to come to our neighborhood association meetings and show the people the plans on paper and get their input on the project, much as he got the opinions of the people directly affected by the Maplecrest expansion. Gunawardena worked with those neighbors to incorporate their ideas and has attempted to do so here but has sadly been excluded from any and all public gatherings, leaving my neighbors with the views of just one side of the table. For those who want to get the facts, he is willing to come to meetings, to individual homes or set time out of his day in his office to show you the plans. I urge you to do so before writing any more letters presuming to speak for all of us.