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The Journal Gazette

  • Photos by Cathie Rowand | The Journal Gazette Lane restrictions on Clinton Street at Headwaters Park were the result of a brick sewer collapse.

  • Maysville Road is closed at Trier and Landin roads for installation of a roundabout.

Saturday, June 17, 2017 1:00 am

Practice patience

Today's traffic jams will lead to better tomorrow

Unless you haven't ventured beyond your doorstep in recent weeks, you've inevitably sat in a traffic jam or faced a road-closed sign. Take heart – the work eventually will be finished and Fort Wayne will be the better for it.

Until then, some patience is required. Construction work is clogging major thoroughfares and side streets throughout the city, creating headaches for motorists, pedestrians and bicyclists alike. Well, maybe not bicyclists – they are best equipped to zip around the obstructions.

The Department of Public Works is responsible for $25 million in construction work in neighborhoods and downtown Fort Wayne this season, including reconstruction of Fairfield Avenue from Jefferson Boulevard to Main Street and Coldwater Road from Washington Center Road to Coliseum Boulevard. 

An emergency repair on a collapsed brick sewer by Headwaters Park on Clinton couldn't have come at a worse time – at the start of festival season – but city spokesman Frank Suarez said the work should be finished within the next couple of weeks.

Indiana Michigan Power's efforts to upgrade its decades-old underground network accounts for much of the downtown work. I&M spokesman Tracy Warner said the work at East Washington Boulevard and Clinton Street should be completed in the next few days and work will move to the less-congested Harrison and Calhoun streets.

“We're in real close contact with the city every day – literally daily updates,” he said. “We work with the city on places and dates we should avoid.”

I&M will suspend all of its downtown construction activity during the Three Rivers Festival next month, Warner said. 

A groundbreaking ceremony for construction of the $188 million Three Rivers Protection and Overflow Reduction Tunnel took place Thursday, but the project isn't expected to add much to the traffic disruption initially because most of the work happens deep underground. There will be some disruptions over the next few years as construction crews install “dropshafts” along the five-mile route.

Suarez said more than 40 meetings already have taken place with representatives of neighborhoods affected by the tunnel project, with more to come. 

“We've been talking to folks, not just about road closures, but actually about which side of the street to park on. We want to go into that level of detail because we want to make sure people recognize there will be disruptions for some folks for some time,” City Utilities Director Kumar Menon said. “But the long-term benefits are permanent.”

The benefits extend to all of the construction sites around the community – safer and better streets, greater reliability for the electric grid, cleaner rivers.

Yes, transportation is a challenge for now. Just allow some extra time for travel and focus on the improvements we'll soon enjoy.