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
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
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.