Chesterton Tribune

Fixing tech center drive more expensive than thought

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By PAULENE POPARAD

The latest estimate to reconstruct private Tech Drive to heavy-haul highway standards is about $500,000 --- more than twice the previously estimated pricetag.

Greg Koszut, president of the Tech Business Center property owners association charged with maintaining Tech Drive, told the Burns Harbor Town Council he hopes to have the road temporarily patched soon and by next meeting have reached some consensus among POA members how they’ll proceed.

If that fails, the council indicated it could meet with POA members and offer a carrot and a stick: if they bring the road to highway standards and the town engineer certifies it is, the town could accept it and assume future maintenance; if the POA doesn’t fix the road, members risk having the town close it as unsafe for public use.

Tech Drive is the only access for all but one tenant to the industrial park.

The town’s last resort could be withholding fire and police response to the park because the road has become too dangerous for town employees and equipment.

Council president Jim McGee said he doesn’t want to cut off services to anyone. There are about seven businesses in the industrial park west of Indiana 149 south of U.S. 20.

Councilman Mike Perrine, a business owner himself, said his insurance company wouldn’t condone if he were located on a road that is closed or he didn’t have access to emergency services.

Koszut, who is employed by DLZ, acknowledged the road deteriorated more than usual this year, especially the east end which was built first. The POA spends about $100,000 a year for repairs and wants to have a road suitable for the heavy semi-truck traffic most tenants generate, he explained Wednesday, but cost is the stumbling block.

So is POA participation. Koszut said he’s currently holding all four offices in the association due to lack of interest.

Town attorney Bob Welsh said the POA likely has some internal enforcement options including litigation to make members “whether kicking or screaming or whatever” comply. Then again, said Welsh, some POA members may not be able to raise cash for the road and “you can’t get water out of a rock.”

Assuming Koszut and the council can craft an agreement with the POA, how and when Tech Drive would be totally rebuilt could be problematic itself.

Koszut said the POA would like to stage the work in sections and efforts would be made to maintain some form of access to businesses at all times. Ideally reconstruction would start at the Indiana 149 intersection where a stop light is going to be installed, but no timetable for that project is known. Welsh said staging the road might cause problems with the town accepting it.

There was agreement that stormwater drainage, not well addressed during Tech Drive’s previous construction, must be addressed now.

Perrine said he wants to attempt an amicable resolution for Tech Drive if possible.

Koszut said he would appreciate any pressure the council could exert to help accomplish that goal. “I don’t know that I have buy-in from everybody to fix this road, but I’m committed to it.”

 

Posted 5/12/2011