Frank Gray, a local journalist for Fort Wayne’s Journal Gazette Newspaper uses The Mess On Main as his subject for the latest piece on city development. The article has welcomed several opinions on the papers Facebook page with nearly 80% of the comments in favor of the reconstruction with a few that are digging in their heels. While it’s nice to see the rising support for safer and better highways in the city, we can’t settle for anything less than full community buy-in for the enhancement of our city throughways.
His article begins by saying “Crews buying new sewer lines dug up the street and intersection for blocks between downtown and St. Joseph Hospital. They were quick about it, though. They dug up the road, laid huge pipes and buried them in no time before moving on to another block.” If you haven’t followed other city projects the city is required by the federal government to invest millions into storm sewer separation and it’s all part of a bigger project that will see hundreds of millions building a large tunnel under the city for drainage. The city is also facing a strict timeline to complete these projects before being fined, which leads to the rush the city is facing.
In the attempt to rebuild the city infrastructure that is often not seen by the public, there are going to be several changes city residents will see above street level. City crews will be busy painting new lines along Main Street which runs between the community center and St. Joesph Hospital. The new striped lanes will reduce Main Street from four lanes to three with one travel lane in each direction and a central turn lane. The most exciting part of the restructuring and road diet facing Main Street will be two bike lanes running along the edge of the road. The design will make the street which is already busy, safer for both motorists and cyclists. Gray states “We’ll have to see what sort of congestion the new arrangement has. Turning left onto Broadway might be a headache at times, but one just learns to take different routes of avoiding those headaches. The one thing that concerns me are the bike lanes.” This is often the concern of many which are causing the residents of Fort Wayne to not have the full backing of these projects. He continues to say “I worry about the cyclists and whether all of them understand the rules.” He uses examples of people traveling the wrong way on Wayne and Berry streets which are both one-way roads, but what he doesn’t mention is that Main will be a full two-way street which is quite different than the two he mentioned before.
While we appreciate the concern of bicyclists following the law, the promotion of doubt for the city to continue building these multi-modal transportation corridors may be the most troublesome. It’s exciting to see the city making these much-needed changes to Main Street. While the stretch of the roadway being reconstructed only runs between St. Joseph and the Community Center, it’s a step in the right direction. It would be nice to see additional blocks of Main Street converted and positive journalism from the city outlets like The Journal Gazette, WANE, etc. will help go a long way.
We now question, with the street being completed to Jackson, which is just a few short blocks from the Carole Lombard bridge, could Nebraska be the first connected neighborhood to downtown Fort Wayne? There are no current plans to extend the bike path any further west from Jackson, but it’s a conversation we would love to start. The Nebraska neighborhood which extends from Leesburg to Carole Lombard bridge is an upcoming neighborhood has also faced several economic strains including burned out and arson riddled buildings to empty storefronts and vacant lots. The neighborhood once was the industrial complex created by Theodore Thieme for his Wayne Knitting Mills complex where thousands of company employees resided, shopped and worked. The expansion of such multi-modal transportation would encourage bicyclists to travel to and from the neighborhood to downtown but most importantly create a strong connection between both Saint Francis educational campuses. The increase in bike and pedestrian traffic with a decrease in fast moving vehicular traffic will also enhance the safety of children walking to the local elementary school and people who would like to explore the quaint shops and restaurants lining the historic streets in this perfectly located neighborhood.
Can we make Nebraska our first connected neighborhood?