Chesterton Tribune

Interchange at Ind 49 and IBR postponed indefinitely

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By KEVIN NEVERS

A separated-grade interchange at the intersection of Ind. 49 and Indian Boundary Road is not presently warranted and may not be warranted for years.

So the Indiana Department of Transportation has determined, and so the Chesterton Town Council learned at its meeting Tuesday night.

According to an engineering study prepared by INDOT and dated Dec. 6, 2002, crash data in particular do not warrant at this point the construction of any interchange. Those data, compiled between 1995 and 1999, reveal a rate of 2.71 crashes per million vehicles entering the intersection from Ind. 49, a rate 35 percent below the average rate of 4.17 crashes per million for comparable “urban principal arterials” in Indiana; and a rate of 2.80 crashes per million vehicles entering the intersection from Indian Boundary Road, a rate 33 percent below the average rate of 4.17 crashes per million for comparable “urban minor arterials” in the state.

INDOT has, however, proposed a package of less extensive improvements for the intersection, which could be implemented this year or next:

•The removal of the “free-flow merge junction ramps” for eastbound I-94 to southbound Ind. 49 and westbound I-94 to northbound Ind. 49, and their replacement with “low speed” right-turn ramps which would be regulated by yield or stop signs.

•The lengthening of both left and right turn lanes from southbound Ind. 49 to eastbound and westbound Indian Boundary Road.

•The installation of additional signage and overhead lane-control signaled spans.

•And the installation of bright-LED type signal heads.

INDOT estimates the cost of these improvements at $245,000, significantly less than the cost of a separated-grade interchange, which could cost as much as $55 million.

INDOT is also considering the construction of a pedestrian bridge over Ind. 49.

One other project, initially scheduled for 2008 or ‘09, is likely to be postponed until the “2014-2020 time frame,” according to the engineering study: the addition of two more lanes to Ind. 49, a southbound and a northbound, between I-94 and the Indiana Toll Road.

Bits and Pieces

•Fire Chief Warren “Skip” Highwood told members that the aerial is back in service after repairs at Pierce Manufacturing in Appleton, Wis. Meanwhile, Engine 520 is currently receiving upgrades at Pierce, including the addition of another foam tank.

•Street Commissioner John Schnadenberg informed the council that, while updating the town’s street inventory, he has discovered that the Indiana Department of Transportation has incorrectly listed one of Chesterton’s roadways as belonging to Porter: the stretch of Woodlawn Ave. between Waverly Road and 15th Street. Schnadenberg noted that for the last 20 years at least Chesterton has maintained that roadway and recently re-paved it but that—for those 20 years—INDOT has been giving Porter credit for it. INDOT has notified Schnadenberg that the mistake will be rectified after it receives letters from the Chesterton and Porter town councils consenting to a re-inventory of the roadway. By consensus members authorized Schnadenberg to seek such a letter from their colleagues in Porter.

•Schnadenberg also informed the council that foreman Bill Reed, an 18-year veteran of the Street Department, suffered a heart attack Monday but is expected to recover. Members wished Reed a full and speedy convalescence.

•Park Superintendent Bruce Mathias reminded residents of a park cleanup day scheduled for March 22, with a rain-day scheduled for a week later, March 29. People who wish to volunteer to police the town’s parks for trash and debris are encouraged to call the Parks & Recreation Department at 926-3000.

•The Tax Abatement Advisory Committee will meet prior at 6:30 p.m. Feb. 24, prior to the council’s next meeting, to consider the renewal of two tax abatements: the first, granted to Chester Inc., for real-estatement improvements; the second, granted to RCI HV Inc.—formerly HV Roll Center Inc.—for machinery and equipment. At a meeting earlier Tuesday the committee found the two firms’ application for renewal not to be in order and gave them a deadline of Feb. 19 to resubmit the paperwork or face the revocation of those abatements. Chesterton Tribune reporter Kevin Nevers sits on that committee.

From the Floor

Chesterton dentist Virgil Gassoway opened Tuesday’s meeting by urging the council from the floor to reject the contemplated establishment of a Porter County income tax. Or as he put it, not “to offer up the citizens of Chesterton as fodder for the cannon of bigger government.” Gassoway argued that, on this issue at least, the citizens “have already spoken,” when they ousted Porter County Council Member Barb Stroud in the last election and elected instead an outspoken opponent of an income tax, Bob Poparad.

He added that “the financial problems of county government began long before the Bethlehem bankruptcy,” and provided members with copies of a report prepared by the three sub-committees of the Porter County Finance Process Committee. The conclusion of the Executive Summary of the Efficiency Subcommittee, on which Gassoway sat:

“Until such time, that the county government becomes an efficient well-run entity, we strongly oppose any and all forms of local income tax. The county must immediately LEARN TO LIVE WITHIN IT’S, MEANS, AND IT MUST DO SO EFFICIENTLY.”

The Porter County Council could only establish an option income tax with the support of municipalities which, along with the county, represent at least 50.1 percent of the county’s total population.

 

Posted 2/12/2003