Ground broken on Wabash Street expansion

Participating in the groundbreaking on Wabash Street were (from left) Wabash Street Superintendent Scott Richardson, State Sen. Andy Zay, Mayor Scott Long, Gregg Koppelmann of E&B Paving, and Brian Campbell of Randall Miller & Associates. Photos by Joseph Slacian

By Joseph Slacian

Work on the Wabash Street expansion project was scheduled to begin this week.

Ground was broken during a brief ceremony on Friday, July 7, near the Wabash Apostolic Church. Mayor Scott Long, State Sen. Andy Zay and representatives from E&B Paving and the city’s Street Department turned spades of dirt while standing under a tent during a steady rain.

Long said equipment was likely to be put into place on Monday, July 10, and work on the project was to begin in earnest by mid-week.

The project entails reconstructing .7 miles of North Wabash Street from approximately Euclid Street north to U.S. 24. The new roadway will include new pavement, storm water lines, curbs and gutters, sidewalks and lighting.

“The good thing about this road project, for the city and everybody in this area, is we’re incorporating storm drains that with the cooperation of Parkview Hospital, we’re going to drain some of our storm water into their pond to reduce the flow downstream,” Long said.

He also referenced a new housing project planned for the area.

“We’ve got a development, Chippewa Estates, that’s going to happen just south of here, too,” he continued. “They will also include a retention pond in their development … and hopefully will reduce the flooding.”

The cooperation between Parkview and the city “has been phenomenal,” the mayor said, noting the hospital has increased the size of its retention pond to help city plans.

The sidewalks, Long told The Paper of Wabash County, will be on the west side of the road.

“We had a lot more right-of-way on that side than we did on the other side, so it saved us from purchasing more land,” he said.

He believes that the project will be a benefit for residents in the area.

“Several residents in the area have young children,” he said. “They currently walk on this street toward O.J. Neighbours, so it’s going to be a safer factor for them.”

Plans call for work to be finished as quickly as possible, Long said, so as to not cause major problems with traffic at O.J. Neighbours once school begins.

“The hope is to get it done before the opening of Parkview Hospital next June,” he added.

Improvements were made possible through new funding provided by the Indiana General Assembly.

In 2016, state lawmakers created the Community Crossings grant program. During its inaugural year, the program provided nearly $86 million in road funding to Indiana communities, including $1 million to Wabash.

“We appreciate our state legislators’ support for allowing that program to come to fruition,” Long said.

Zay noted that lawmakers spent a considerable amount of time discussing Indiana roadways this year.

“What was most important to me was changing neighborhoods and changing communities,” he said. “This is the beginning of what we’ll see in a lot of communities … allowing them to become destination homes and piggyback on economic development to allow us to become prepared for the upcoming century.

“We will continue the theme of becoming ‘The Crossroads of America,’ because the crossroads of America start in our communities, getting people to work and products to market.”

Marilyn Custer-Mitchell, president of Parkview Wabash Hospital, said one of the things she is most excited about is the sidewalk and trail the hospital is putting around the retention pond.

Once completed, the work will create a “great trail system” stretching from Alber Street to the Field of Dreams, she said.

Long also said the city will seek more funding from the Community Crossings program.

He, along with Street Superintendent Scott Richardson and Assistant Superintendent Tyler Niccum, has discussed paving projects planned for this year.

“We’ve got the opportunity to apply for a 50 percent match, so rather than do a limited number of streets, we could maybe double up on what we were going to do,” Long said. “We’ll probably go for, not a million this year, but somewhere around a half million.”

He would like to see sidewalks on the south side of Canal Street, and sidewalks can be included in the plans.

Wabash Street will remain open during construction, Long said.

“The intent was to do one lane at a time,” he told The Paper. “But we kind of shifted our focus because we got delayed in starting. We’re going to try to get both lanes done from Euclid (Street) to St. Matthew’s (Church of Christ) and the north entrance to (Neighbours) so that school buses will be able to pull out.”

He said work on Wabash Street should be done well in advance of the next expansion project on Alber Street.

“Our target date to complete this is this fall,” he said. “Alber Street won’t bid until this fall. We’ll let the bids and construction can start next spring.”

Posted on 2017 Jul 11