Chesterton Tribune

Town to seek NIRPC help on Dickinson Rd north extension

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The Dickinson Road extension, long the Holy Grail of Town of Chesterton officialdom, has been stuck in place and going nowhere fast for years.

The last time anyone thought about it publicly was in November, when the Redevelopment Commission made the formal determination that, at such time as Dickinson Road is extended from East Porter Ave. to Indian Boundary Road, it will cross the Norfolk Southern tracks by way of Council Drive, not Sand Creek Drive.

But aside from focusing officials’ attention on the concept of the Dickinson Road extension, that vote did nothing substantive to advance the project.

Now, in an effort to get off the dime, the Redevelopment Commission voted 5-0 at at its meeting Monday night to take the project to the Northwestern Indiana Regional Planning Commission, in the hope that NIRPC’s long-range planners can apply themselves to it.

That vote followed a presentation from the floor by Heather Ennis, executive director of the Chesterton/Duneland Chamber of Commerce, who submitted to the commission a resolution adopted by the Chamber’s Board of Directors on Thursday in support of the Dickinson Road extension.

That resolution declares that the extension would “create an additional north-south thoroughfare on the east side” of Ind. 49 which would “help to alleviate traffic” on Ind. 49, “spur the development of a potential commercial corridor consisting of approximately 45 acres, and provide enhanced access to existing businesses along Indian Boundary Road.”

The Dickinson Road extension would also “create new jobs, increase economic development, reduce congestion, and improve the quality of life for the residents of the Town of Chesterton and Duneland,” the resolution also declares.

The Chamber’s Board of Directors accordingly resolved to encourage the town “to study the best method of crossing the Norfolk Southern line and to explore various alternative methods of funding the project.”

Member Jim Ton wasted no time in making a twofold motion: first, to ask the Engineering Department to prepare “conceptual drawings” of a Dickinson Road extension linking East Porter Ave. to Indian Boundary Road via Council Drive; and second, to request the assistance of the long-range planners at NIRPC.

Ton noted that NIRPC’s assistance would come at no cost to taxpayers.

Town Engineer Mark O’Dell said that he would be happy to do some drawings showing possible alignments, lighting, and rights-of-way as well as to collect a raft of pertinent documents compiled over the years.

Ton did note that “there are challenges,” in particular the crossing of the Norfolk Southern tracks—either by underpass or overpass—and funding.

But the need, Ton said, is undeniable and vital, to reduce traffic volume on Ind. 49, to open the east side of Ind. 49 to development, and to provide an alternate north-south route in the event of an emergency’s temporarily closing Ind. 49.

“We’ve got to build some kind of fire under the project,” Ton added.




Posted 4/24/2012