Work on the East Porter Ave. bridge replacement project has ground to a
halt, one week after the box culvert spanning Sand Creek was delivered and
The reason: Frontier Communications still--still--has not re-located
two utility lines in the project site: one, an underground fiber optic line;
the other, an above-ground telephone line.
At the moment the project’s contractor, Grimmer Construction Inc. of
Highland, is unable to work around Frontier’s infrastructure and is unable
to install the culvert’s wing walls, Chesterton Town Engineer Mark O’Dell
told the Redevelopment Commission at its meeting Monday night.
And the already once extended permit issued to the town by the Indiana
Department of Natural Resources--for working in a salmonid stream--is due to
expire on Aug. 18, after which, O’Dell fears, “The DNR could say, ‘You can’t
work any longer in the stream. Come back in late fall.’”
Frontier was advised of the need to re-locate the two utility lines in
November 2017 and was further advised in March to begin the procurement
process for the materials required. But Frontier has evinced a notable lack
of urgency and a distinct unresponsiveness in the matter, and officials are
“Frontier is inconveniencing hundreds, if not thousands, of our residents,
who aren’t able to use that road,” President Jeff Trout said of the ongoing
closure of East Porter Ave. between Dickinson Road and 250E. “It’s a shame.
Because of their neglect and non-performance, they’ve brought work to
“This company has been completely irresponsible concerning this matter,”
Town Attorney Chuck Lukmann said. “Frontier has not responded to
correspondence sent out a month ago. They’ve known about this since Feb. 17.
They approved a plan for the re-location but never followed through with it.
This is not a simple project and one party is holding things up.”
By consensus members instructed Lukmann to pursue all options in getting
Frontier off the dime. “In the strongest possible terms, do what you have to
do,” Trout urged Lukmann.
“Go for the neck,” Member Emerson DeLaney added.
Until the box culvert is open for business, motorists will be forced to
continue to detour the East Porter Ave. closure: motorists eastbound on East
Porter Ave. are being sent south on Dickinson Road, east on Sidewalk Road,
north on 250E, then back to East Porter Ave.; the detour is simply reversed
for motorists westbound on East Porter Ave.
The contract price: $619,370.20, a portion of which is being defrayed by a
Community Crossings state infrastructure grant.
Paving Jobs Done
Meanwhile, two other projects partially funded by the Community Crossings
grant have been completed: the re-pave of South Calumet Road between Porter
Ave. and the Chesterton Post Office; and more recently the re-pave of Wabash
Ave. from North Calumet Road to Waverly Road and then of Waverly Road north
to Woodlawn Ave.
The Wabash Ave. job was finished last week, Street Commissioner John
Schnadenberg reported, and “it turned out pretty good.”
So good, in fact, that Trout wondered whether Police Chief Dave Cincoski and
his patrol officers have observed an uptick in speeding on Wabash Ave.
prompted by the silky smoothness of the roadway.
In other business, O’Dell reported that work on the fiber optic network is
nearly complete, but for linking the network installed on the south side of
the three railroad lines to that on the north side. To that end members
voted unanimously to release funds for the necessary permit application
* $6,400 to CSX to process two applications, one for crossing its line on
North 15th Street, the other for crossing its line on Waverly Road.
* And $2,000 to Norfolk Southern to process the application for crossing its
line on North 15th Street.
The Amtrak line, on the other hand, has proved a more difficult nut to
crack. “We’re still dealing with Amtrak,” O’Dell said. “That’s been very
How hard? Amtrak’s permit application is 86 pages long.