Chesterton Tribune

Porter using grant to fund downtown master plan; contract awarded

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Awarding contracts busied the Porter Redevelopment Commission at Tuesday’s meeting.

Voting 5-0, members chose consultants SEH to prepare a downtown master plan, for which the town received a $60,000 grant. Commission president Elka Nelson said it makes sense for SEH to do the plan since it’s basically an extension of the firm’s ongoing Gateway to the Indiana Dunes tourism/economic-development project for Porter.

SEH has a familiarity with the Gateway’s goals and there would be continuity in choosing the firm, explained Nelson.

Although the Gateway’s main sub-area is the Indiana 49/U.S. 20 corridor, officials have said they don’t want growth there to detract from Porter’s downtown so Gateway hike/bike trails will lead into it. Porter previously was awarded a $19 million grant for the Gateway although much of the proposed improvements are in the planning or engineering phase.

Also Tuesday, after considering four proposals a contract not to exceed $45,000 was awarded to Global Engineering and Surveying of Michigan City to perform a hydrolic study to establish water flow in the area of State Park Road between Indiana 49 and Waverly Road north of U.S. 12.

With a drainage project in the works that would cut through Porter’s Hawthorne Park, Right-of-Way Jones was hired as a buyer for $1,525 to secure a perpetual easement from the Park Board to facilitate the improvements. Restrictions on the grant project prevent direct negotiation now between the park and RDC.

On another matter, the commission voted unanimously authorizing Porter director of development/building commissioner Michael Barry to choose the best proposal received and proceed with installation of a fence along the west side of Sexton Avenue south of Beam Street to protect riders/walkers on the new Brickyard Trail from falling down a 10 to 12-foot drop-off.

Nelson said as the weather warms more people, especially children, will be using the trail.

When the trail was designed it was thought the separate 32-acre Brickyard parcel the RDC owns west of Sexton Avenue would be developed with primarily residential uses so the drop-off would be graded to a safe level. However, environmental contamination was discovered on the southern portion of the parcel and its development has stalled for the forseeable future. The Indiana Department of Environmental Management has determined the site doesn’t appear to present a risk to local drinking water.

Charlie Ray of the Duneland Group gave a revised schedule for installation of a pedestrian bridge over U.S. 20 at Howe Road for the Brickyard Trail. Once slated for February, it now looks like the span over the four-lane highway will be set in mid-April. In late April it’s anticipated a trail bridge will be set over U.S. 12.

At least one lane each way on U.S. 20 will remain open during bridge installation although periodic 20-minute closures are planned. Ray said because the highway is a heavy-haul route for Michigan train semi-trucks, there’s no acceptable detour that would enable U.S. 20’s extended closure.

Ray assured that sufficient notice will be given to parties that use U.S. 20 including Duneland School Corp. buses as the closures begin.

RDC member Al Raffin expressed concern that bicycle riders might speed through the bridge rather than walk their bikes up it.

Ray said a series of switchback approaches would make riding difficult. Nelson said she would ask about planned signage, and Ray won approval for three minor trail change-orders including an additional $500 for a barricade and signage urging people to stay off the bridge until it’s officially opened.

Most of the $2.9 million Brickyard Trail from Lincoln Street in downtown Porter north to and through the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore is funded with a federal grant administered by the Indiana Department of Transportation. Nelson said inter-local agreements with INDOT assigning insurance, maintenance and other responsibilities for the bridges are still being negotiated.



Posted 3/29/2012