Chesterton Tribune


Engineering study for Dickinson Road extension is under way

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Very likely you’ve seen recently, while driving through Chesterton, the double-tube traffic counters strategically placed on various thoroughfares in town.

Those are part of an engineering study currently being undertaken by DLZ for the Redevelopment Commission, which is working hard to persuade the Northwestern Indiana Regional Planning Commission that the long-discussed Dickinson Road extension is a worthwhile project and should be eligible for inclusion in NIRPC’s 2040 plan.

Although the Dickinson Road extension does not technically meet NIRPC’s definition of a “regionally significant” project—partly because the stretch of road involved simply isn’t long enough—NIRPC has signaled its willingness to consider the extension as an “expansion project” which could be included in the 2040 plan. And that would qualify it for federal funding.

But first the town needs to complete an engineering study and submit the results to NIRPC.

At the commission’s meeting Tuesday night, Mike Jabo of DLZ gave members a overview of the study parameters.

Among other things, DLZ is researching the “traffic impacts” of a Dickinson Road extension and doing so by means of the traffic counters. Seventeen of them have been placed on major roadways around the intended development area, including on East Porter Ave., Indiana Boundary Road, C.R. 250E and Brummitt Road, 1050N, 1100N, Rail Road, and South Calumet Road.

These counters will give NIRPC the micro-data it needs to model the potential effect on traffic volumes of any extension. Of chief concern: would the extension draw off of Ind. 49 a meaningful volume of traffic?

DLZ will also be performing soil bores and compiling water table information along the Norfolk Southern railroad right-of-way, which one way or another a Dickinson Road extension would have to cross: over, under, or straight across.

In addition, DLZ will attempt to derive an environmental assessment of the project. Will, for instance, a Dickinson Road extension have a positive or negative impact on the non-attainment area.

Finally, DLZ will offer an opinion about the likely cost of the project.

Jabo did warn members: if you have any hope of securing federal funds for the project, an at-grade railroad crossing will have to be submitted as an option. The problem with that, of course: if Norfolk Southern were to approve an at-grade crossing, it would almost certainly insist that one or more other at-grade crossings in town be closed permanently.

DLZ’s engineering study is costing the town $69,640.

The Dickinson Road extension has been pursued, off and on by the town, for years. But little substantial progress has been made. Earlier this year, however, members did make this decision: when built, the extension will link Indian Boundary Road to East Porter Ave. by means of Council Drive.



Posted 8/30/2012