FORT WAYNE – City officials will host a series of open houses for residents to view and give input on the plans to straighten and widen State Boulevard.
The $11 million project calls for two travel lanes in each direction and a softer curve near Eastbrook and Westbrook drives to improve safety. The new alignment – which would require about $3.2 million in property acquisitions – would provide more capacity than the 20,500 vehicles that travel it daily.
City officials say the upgrade will improve flood control, traffic flow and pedestrian and motorist safety, while preserving the historic aspects of neighborhood streets.
The open houses will feature renderings of the preliminary designs so residents can have a better idea of what the street could look like. These designs came from citizen input, conveyed at numerous meetings over the past four years, officials said, stressing they are preliminary, not final, renderings.
Opponents, however, say the plans are to create a fast-moving urban highway meant to draw trucks from Coliseum Boulevard, and that it will destroy the neighborhood. City officials say the road that will not be a truck route, that they are designing the road to slow traffic and that by moving the road away from homes it will actually save a neighborhood being choked by an unsafe, clogged road.
There will be streetlights and trees right at the curb, and a planted median. The trees and low overhead signals will also discourage trucks, officials said.
In November, 13 people addressed the City Council on the issue. Seven residents, most of whom live along State Boulevard, spoke in favor of the project, while eight spoke against it. Of those opposed, only two live in the neighborhood affected.
City officials contend the project is, in fact, what neighbors want, because they have had at least 30 meetings with residents on the project, but are holding the open houses to get even more input and ensure the neighborhood is included in the planning process.