Chesterton Tribune                                                                                   Adv.

Dickinson Road extension: 'Time to fish or cut bait'

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By KEVIN NEVERS

When it comes to the Dickinson Road extension, it’s time to fish or cut bait.

That’s the view of Chesterton Redevelopment Commissioner Member Jim Ton, who at Monday’s meeting said that the feasibility of the project—including its fundability—needs to be determined, so that the commission can either pursue it or earmark tax increment financing funds for other uses.

His colleagues agreed with him and accordingly instructed Town Attorney Chuck Lukmann and Town Engineer Mark O’Dell to prepare information on a feasibility study.

The commission last seriously grappled with the Dickinson Road extension—in brief, the proposed connection of Indian Boundary Road to Sidewalk Road via Sand Creek Drive or Council Drive—in 2006, when the decision was made to back-burner the issue in favor of the South Calumet District project.

But in October 2009 Town Council Member — now Commission Member — Jeff Trout, R-2nd, raised the issue again and in March he was joined by Ton, both of whom argued the need for a north/south thoroughfare east of Ind. 49.

“What do we need to do next?” Ton asked Lukmann on Monday.

“I’ve been convinced for years we’re not going to get federal or state money from (the Northwestern Indiana Regional Planning Commission) because it’s not a regional project,” Lukmann replied. “We’ve got to come to grips. Is it a project? Where are we going to connect? How are we going to fund it?”

Member Sharon Darnell recalled her concern with the project four years ago, when she voiced her fear that a Dickinson Road extension would “virtually create another Downtown district” and one directly in competition with the existing one. “That one reason we didn’t push ahead,” she said.

But Darnell agreed with Ton and Trout that the construction on Indian Boundary Road of a 24-hour free-standing emergency department—a project slated to begin in October—is likely to change traffic patterns significantly on the east side of Ind. 49.

O’Dell, for his part, recalled a meeting in 2006 with the Indiana Department of Transportation in Indianapolis. “And there was bad news, and there was bad news, and there was bad news.”

The worst news, of course, is the necessity of traversing, one way or another, the railroad tracks plump in the middle of any chosen route. As DLZ engineer Mike Jabo noted from the floor, you can either go over the tracks, under them, or across them, and the first two options will cost millions. The railroad, on the other hand, isn’t likely to approve another grade-crossing in town without some sort of concession, like the closure of other grade-crossings.

In any case, Jabo said, in order to qualify for any kind of federal funding, the commission will have to demonstrate a real need. “If you don’t have the traffic” to justify it, “it’s hard to go knocking on the federal door. Will it take traffic from Ind. 49?”

A feasibility study, members agreed, would go a long way toward answering that and other questions. By a 3-0 vote, they authorized Lukmann and O’Dell to prepare information about such a study. Members Mark Singer and Ed Schoenfelt were not in attendance.

New or Extended TIF District

In other business, mMembers voted 3-0 to instruct Lukmann to investigate the extension of the current TIF district—or otherwise the creation of a new one—to incorporate recently annexed property south of the Indiana Toll Road and both east and west of Ind. 49: the so-called Rossman and Pope properties.

“There’s been a lot of rumbling about development there,” Trout said, and it would be a good idea to be ahead of the curve.

South Calumet District Update

Meanwhile, O’Dell said, work is gradually drawing to a close in the South Calumet District, with general contractor G.E. Marshall set to stripe the north manifold entrance along South Calumet Road north of Beverly Drive; and landscape contractor Larson-Danielson Construction Company scheduled to complete the final lighting at the focal elements and gateways as well as the final grading and restoration.

A few miscellaneous items remain—chiefly, so far as the commission is concerned, a street light which hasn’t worked since July at the north end—but O’Dell reminded members that G.E. Marshall won’t get a dime of the $118,000 retainage until the punch-list has been completed.

Claims

Members voted 3-0 to approve the following claims: $36,201.84 from Larson-Danielson; $6,976 from DLZ; and $102,387.08 from G.E. Marshall.

Members also voted 3-0 to approve Change Order No. 5, which increased the original contract price for Phase II of the project of $2,076,997.67 by $116,340.58. Much of the change order was due to the unexpected need for additional stone ($25,600.50) and asphalt ($41,765.84). O’Dell did say that the commission paid 2009 prices for the materials.

Change orders have increased the total price of Phase II by $297,534.59 for an overrun of around 14 percent.

 

Posted 8/24/2010

 

 

 

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