The Journal Gazette
Tuesday, June 30, 2020 1:00 am

New city street projects unveiled

$24 million, 100 neighborhoods despite virus, late start


The Fairfield Terrace neighborhood on Fort Wayne's south side was built in the World War II era and soon became one of Fort Wayne's many stable areas for raising a family.

Trouble is, after all those years, the streets in the neighborhood didn't stay so stable.

Monday morning, members of the street department chose one of them, Burns Boulevard, to announce the city's annual commitment to maintaining and improving neighborhood thoroughfares.

The boulevard, a neglected cousin of other neighborhood boulevards, was initially built as a gravel street, said Shan Gunawardena, public works director, after a news conference outlining $24 million in improvements throughout the city's residential areas.

Since then, he said, the boulevard was periodically maintained with a chip-and-seal roadbed. But the street has had so many layers of paving that it drains water into residents' yards, a problem exacerbated by the lack of sidewalks.

Now, the city plans to bid a project for an asphalt street with sidewalks and curbs that will maintain the park-like strip but provide more stability, Gunawardena said. Construction should begin next year, he said.

“I'm encouraged that we're in position to move forward with several neighborhood infrastructure improvements,” Mayor Tom Henry said in a statement. “We're coming together as a community to ... begin important construction work that will move Fort Wayne and our neighborhoods forward.”

This marks the seventh straight year with more than $20 million in neighborhood projects. But Gunawardena said funding improvements have proved more challenging. With the coronavirus pandemic and its stay-at-home orders, gasoline-tax collections have been reduced and income tax and property tax revenues are expected to decline or be delayed in some cases, he said.

And the construction season also got off to a late start, Gunawardena said. But work is planned for 100 neighborhoods, he said. It includes paving, concrete street reconstruction, bridge replacements, sidewalk repairs and construction and trail improvement.

Among the projects:

• Street work on Hobson Road from Coliseum Boulevard to Stellhorn Road, Goshen Avenue and Maplecrest Road

• Concrete repairs in Glenwood Park, Tanbark Trails, Springwood-Orchard Woods, Aspen Village and Greater McMillen Park

• Twenty-five miles of paving on streets including Burns Boulevard, Ardmore Avenue, Kinnaird Street, Pettit Avenue, Dartmouth Drive, Executive Drive, Dupont Road east of Coldwater Road, North Clinton Street, South Anthony Boulevard and Webster Street

• Continuing bridgework on East State Boulevard over the Bullerman Drain, the start of construction for the Van Buren Street Bridge and the beginning of design work for the Bluffton Road Bridge, which recently had a weight-limit reduction

• Alley reconstruction in the Pettit-Rudisill, Spy Run, West Central and Hoagland Masterson neighborhoods

• Construction of two miles of the Beckett's Run Trail and a trail connection from St. Joe Center Road to Wheelock Road 

• New sidewalks along Carew Street and Tillman, Hessen Cassel and Washington Center roads

• Sidewalk repairs in the Oxford, Chandlers Landing, New Glenwood, Monarch Park, Mount Vernon Park, Covington Reserve, Avalon, Abbey Place and the Anthony Wayne Community neighborhoods

• New curb ramps in Tartans Glen, Woodland Lakes, Valley Park Forest, Nebraska, Kern Valley, Fairfield Terrace/Belmont and Eastside Community neighborhoods and others.

The projects are following through on a 2013 framework set by Henry's bipartisan Fiscal Policy Group. Since then, $204 million has been allocated for neighborhood projects.

Additional projects are in the planning stages but could not be confirmed Monday because of coronavirus funding considerations, Gunawardena said. He declined to provide a number for projects, saying they depended on the funding supply.

But a bright spot, Gunawardena said, is that bids have been coming in at less than expected as contractors seek to line up jobs now that coronavirus restrictions are being lifted. 

Betsy Yankowiak, Fairfield Terrace Section B Neighborhood Association president, said the Burns Boulevard project will restore the street from South Calhoun Street to Fairfield Avenue and the sidewalks will be installed at the expense of the city, not residents.

“That's a big help,” she said.

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