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ARCH to unveil State Boulevard alternative

Historic preservation group ARCH will conduct a public meeting to unveil an alternate plan for the reconstruction of State Boulevard.

City officials are planning to rebuild the road between the St. Joseph River and Wells Street, creating 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 and the demolition of several homes – would provide more capacity for the 20,500 vehicles that travel it daily, and a raised bridge over Spy Run Creek would remove it from the threat of floodwaters.

The project has drawn criticism since it was first proposed in 2008, with some neighbors saying the new road will be a fast urban highway inviting truck traffic and destroying the neighborhood. Many more neighbors have pleaded for the project, saying it will save their neighborhood from the congestion and accidents currently ruining it.

City officials say the road will never be a truck route and that the road will be built to slow traffic, not speed it up, and the design will enhance the neighborhood and remove homes repeatedly damaged by flooding.

Officials had a public hearing on the plan June 18, part of the process required to get the federal funding that will pay for 80 percent of the project. That paves the way for engineering to begin; the first phase of the project, which goes from the St. Joseph River to Clinton Street, is slated for construction bids in April 2016. The second phase, from Clinton nearly to Wells Street, is scheduled to be bid in March 2017.

ARCH officials have sided with neighbors opposing the project.

Their public meeting to unveil their proposal will be at 7 p.m. Monday in the lower level of the Psi Ote Barn in Northside Park.

Developed by Storrow Kinsella, a landscape architecture firm, and Transportation Solutions, a traffic engineering firm, ARCH officials said the plan offers a prudent and feasible alternative to the city’s preferred plan. The concept was developed in collaboration with Indiana Landmarks, Friends of the Parks, and the presidents of neighborhood associations in Brookview-Irvington Park Historic District.

“We believe that this alternative offers a better solution to the real problems that exist, will be ultimately less expensive, and does a better job of preserving historic resources and strengthening the neighborhood,” ARCH Executive Director Michael Galbraith said. “We hope that presenting this concept can lead to a productive dialog with city, state and federal authorities.”