Chesterton Tribune

Finally decided: Dickinson Road extension to cross RR tracks by way of Council Drive

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The Dickinson Road extension—a north-south artery which would link Indian Boundary Road to Dickinson Road at East Porter Ave.—has long been a Holy Grail for Town of Chesterton officialdom.

Over the years the project has been front-burnered, then back-burnered, then front-burnered again, but always it loses momentum over two main sticking points: the cost associated with crossing the Norfolk Southern tracks, for one, and the question of where to cross, for the other: by way of Sand Creek Drive or by way of Council Drive?

The second sticking point, at any rate, has been resolved.

At its meeting Monday night, the Redevelopment Commission approved a resolution formally designating Council Drive—rather than Sand Creek Drive—as the roadway by which Indian Boundary Road and Dickinson Road will one day (perhaps) be connected.

The vote followed a lengthy discussion of Member Jim Ton’s suggestion that it would be a good idea to think of the Dickinson Road extension in terms of phases, with Phase I being the construction of a roadway north from East Porter Ave. to the Norfolk Southern right-of-way.

Since crossing the Norfolk Southern tracks has been the perennial brick wall in pursuing the Dickinson Road extension, Ton broached the possibility of developing the area south of those tracks before the property owners in question sold it to a big-box store, just for instance. “Anyone who thinks that’s going to be a cornfield 50 years from now is mistaken, seriously mistaken,” he said. “As we speak, the clock is ticking and I’m afraid that at some time we’re going to wake up and find a big box there.”

That’s probably a good idea, Town Attorney Chuck Lukmann said—bearing in mind always that no decision made by the commission is going to be binding on the affected property owners—but until it’s decided where the railroad tracks would actually be crossed, any planning would be moot.

To that end, Ton moved to make Council Drive the official Dickinson Road extension and members voted to make it so.

‘Calumet Connection’

In other business, the next phase of the South Calumet District project—the reconfiguration of the so-called Triangle north of 1100N and west of 100E, completed last year—now has a both a working name and a rough price tag.

At Ton’s suggestion, members officially dubbed the planning area—the stretch of South Calumet Road between the Pope O’Connor Bridge and Porter Ave.—the “Calumet Connection,” inasmuch as it connects the South Calumet District to the Downtown.

Meanwhile, Town Engineer Mark O’Dell provided a ballpark estimate of the cost of proposed improvements in the Calumet Connection: $1.46 million, including engineering fees and a 20-percent contingency.

Proposed work would include full-depth asphalt replacement, including that over the Pope O’Connor Bridge; curbs and gutters; an eight-foot sidewalk along the west side of South Calumet Road and the replacement of a short stretch of sidewalk along the east side just south of Porter Ave.; decorative street lighting at each intersection; a new storm sewer; and pavement striping.

Member Jeff Trout did wonder whether decorative streetlighting—given the economic climate—would be the best use of tax increment financing funds, rather than out-and-out economic development.

Ton suggested in response that such streetlighting may just be the sort of thing which would attract new business to the area. “This may not just be frosting,” he said. “This may also be the cake.”

In any case, members voted unanimously to obtain engineering quotes as a first step to getting the ball rolling.


Members also voted unanimously to approve two claims, both for work on the Ind. 49 utility corridor project: $25,195.08 from DVG Inc. of Crown Point; and $3,440.58 from SEH of Indiana.



Posted 11/30/2011