A final report proposing enhancements and upgrades for downtown Porter will
be completed in two weeks for review, and Dec. 11 consultants want to hear
what the public thinks about it.
Greg Calpino of SEH of Indiana showed a sparse audience Tuesday the
preferred concept plan for the downtown including 90-degree parking in front
of the popular Lincoln Street pubs and restaurants.
All angle parking on the south side of Lincoln would be eliminated because 4
feet of it encroaches on a railroad right-of-way, but some angle parking on
the north side would be provided in the blocks farther east for an overall
net gain of 60 spaces downtown.
Initial thought to designate a separate hike/bike lane along Lincoln in
addition to the two travel lanes were scrapped, said Calpino, but the
sidewalk would be widened to 8 feet and bikes can share a travel lane.
He didnít rule out negotiations with Amtrak over allowing the town to use
its right-of-way in some manner, even perhaps asking that a passenger
station be built in Porter as part of a $71 million rail-corridor upgrade
between Chicago and Michigan. However, a new station ďis not an easy
process. I donít even want to convey it would be. I wouldnít hang the plan
on this, that it would be a driver.Ē
Calpino said the railroad may want concessions like closing a Porter rail
crossing if Amtrak agrees to support downtown revitalization in other ways
such as allowing/funding a decorative wooden fence along the right-of-way,
or building a suitable bike-trail crossing to span the busy rail junctionís
Currently, hiker/bikers are on their own to reach Chestertonís Prairie
Duneland Trail from Porterís Brickyard Trail that ends at Lincoln and will
be renamed the Dunes Kankakee Trail in the future.
One less crossing might be attractive to Amtrak, Calpino added, as
semi-trucks and tankers cross the tracks because Lincoln Street is Porterís
designated truck route. Route adjustments would require input from
Chesterton, where trucks are sometimes headed.
Moving downtown development east along Lincoln and building sidewalks with
wayfinding signage and decorative lighting would connect it with Hawthorne
Park, said Calpino, for which a separate master plan should be developed.
Its internal road circulation is not good, he noted, and larger events there
need support amenities.
Porterís planned Orchard Pedestrian Trail will go down Waverly Road and take
a jog though Hawthorne, another good reason to better connect the area with
Porterís downtown, said Calpino.
Ways to let visitors know the downtown is there are part of the study as
Bridges and overpasses at key Porter gateways on U.S. 20 and Interstate 94
could be landscaped and attractive signage installed giving directions.
ďInstead of (a bridge) being a hulking piece of infrastructure, it could be
an arrival point for the downtown,Ē according to Calpino.
The final master plan will include recommendations for phasing, funding
sources, and business recruitment to fill the 27 acres of property in the
downtown district available for new development. Also part of the plan will
be new design standards and ways for existing businesses to make
improvements to their properties.