The Burns Harbor
Redevelopment Commission may have discovered at its meeting Wednesday a less
expensive option for putting in traffic controls on Ind. 49. near the
Westport Rd., a key component in developing a new downtown area.
Town Engineer Shem
Khalil a few months ago reported that taking control of the section of Ind.
149 between U.S. 20 and U.S. 12 would cost about $7 million or $8 million
after discussing the plan with the Indiana Department of Transportion. Now
there may be a way the Town could get what they need through a federal grant
with a 20 percent match of $306,000.
Khalil said a grant
is said to be available in late 2018 for the $1.5 million project where the
federal government would pay for 80 percent. INDOT would be the
administrator for the grant through the Northern Indiana Regional Plan
A few things will
be required however before the grant can be applied for, Khalil said. The
Town would have to work so that traffic will be slowed on Ind. 149
approaching the downtown area with lowered speed limits. A signal warrant
study and a traffic analysis will need to be done if INDOT decides it will
“We would need
their permission to do this,” Khalil said.
The signal warrant
study will determine what kind of traffic signal is needed for the
intersection, whether it is a traffic light or a pedestrian crosswalk with a
Khalil said that
$1.5 million is a worst-case scenario cost, mostly depending on what type of
traffic signal is needed. Other infrastructure would include striping,
signage and an eight-foot wide sidewalk.
If the Town is
successful in obtaining the grant, Khalil said construction could begin as
early as 2020. INDOT would maintain the roadway while the Town would be
responsible for the sidewalks.
RDC members shared
their thoughts on other strategies that might make the crossing easier.
Member and Town Councilman Andy Bozak suggested having the pedestrian
crossing under the Ind. 149 bridge that goes over the Little Calumet River
as a possibility so that pedestrians wouldn’t have to cross the roadway.
Brad Enslen said that if the crossing were to go under the bridge there will
still likely be some pedestrians, particularly children, who will try to
cross over the roadway to get to the downtown area.
RDC member Nick
Loving said the Town should push in doing the studies required for the
grant. The RDC agreed 5-0 for Global Engineering to move forward.
RDC member and Town
Councilman Eric Hull asked how long the traffic study will be good for.
Khalil said the study should be good for five years or even more, depending
on the development in the area.
Food truck square
discussions Wednesday, RDC President and Town Councilman Marcus Rogala said
he feels the RDC should pursue finding someone who can be a coordinator for
next year’s food truck square events. The services would be contracted
rather than hiring someone as an employee, he said.
The RDC plans to
put a notice in the newspapers about the opportunity.
Rogala said the
square will have a few repeats of its big events from last year’s inaugural
season such as the police appreciation night and the brewfest.
RDC member and Town
Councilwoman Toni Biancardi said the Westchester Public Library can be asked
again about helping with a few movie nights there.
summed up the results of the RDC’s strategic planning workshop held Monday.
The board determined up to eight priority projects, including the first two
phases of the Marquette Greenway Trail development, the development of a
marketplace site on four acres at Westport Rd., implementing wayfinding
signage so residents and visitors can find amenities in the town, making
improvements to Ind. 149 and offering a business incentive package to
attract economic development.
The priorities were
determined from the results of a leadership survey of the RDC members.
Rogala said he
would like to have the workshops done each year to shape the Commission’s
“It helps us focus
on our vision,” Biancardi agreed.
In other reports,
RDC Communications Director Danielle Ziulkowski presented copies of a mailer
that residents will receive about the Marquette Greenway and inform them
about the benefits the trail can provide the town.
receive in the mailing an 8 1/2” by 11” two-sided sheet explaining the
history and the vision of the project.
“It speaks directly
to them. It gets their support, gets their buy-in,” Ziulkowski said. “It
builds pride. It builds identity when a resident sees a project like this of
this magnitude. I think this is going to create a lot of buzz and a wow
Rongers added that
engineering is ready to start on the first phase of the Trail.
The RDC approved
renewing contracts with Rongers and Ziulkowski for 2017.
Ziulkowski kept the
same rate at $50 per hour but reduced the maximum for hours per month to
Rongers rates for
next year include $128.75 per hour for strategic development services, $65
per hour for grant research and writing and $40 per hour for coordinator.
The scope of work is not to exceed $110,000 for the year, the contract
states. The board voted 5-0 for Ziulkowski’s contract but voted 4-1 on
Rongers’ contract. Bozak said he is in favor of the rates but voted no
because Rongers submitted the contract only a few hours before the meeting
and he wished there was more time to review it.