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