Chesterton Tribune

 

 

Burns Harbor RDC finds cheaper alternative for 149 project

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By JEFF SCHULTZ

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 Commission.

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 require it.

“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 signal.

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.

Audience member 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 coordinator

In other 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.

Workshop

Meanwhile, Rongers 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 goals.

“It helps us focus on our vision,” Biancardi agreed.

Greenway PR

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.

Residents will 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 factor.”

Rongers added that engineering is ready to start on the first phase of the Trail.

Contracts

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 three.

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.

 

 

Posted 12/16/2016

 

 

 

 
 
 
 

 

 

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