MICHIGAN CITY — The cost of reconstructing a main traffic artery to the city's new hospital has come in at more than $5 million.
The investment is not just for the Franciscan Health Michigan City hospital but also residents and industry along the route like a commercial bakery, said Don Babcock, president of the city’s Redevelopment Commission.
The five bids opened Monday range from $5.2 million to $7.7 million.
Ohio Street, from U.S. 20 to 400 North, will have a third lane added for making left-hand turns to help with traffic flow and safety on the one-mile stretch, Babcock said.
Better street lighting, major sewer improvements and a wider entrance for Hearthside Food Solutions, a maker of baked goods like cookies and crackers, are also part of the project.
Babcock said the work should begin this summer and finish before the hospital is scheduled to open late this year.
"This is a north-south artery that has needed some attention for quite some time. The timing couldn’t be better for improving the street," Babcock said.
The cost will be financed over 20 years with proceeds captured from a tax increment financing district that includes Dunes Plaza, Lowe's and Menards south of U.S. 20, he said.
Dean Mazzoni, president and CEO of the hospital, said the main entrance to the $235 million hospital along Interstate 94 will be a new drive called Franciscan Way leading from the intersection of County Road 400 North and Ohio Street.
All vehicles will use the drive to enter and exit the campus.
Another drive branching off of that one, directly to the emergency room, will be for ambulances only, Mazzoni said.
Babcock said Ohio Street is expected to see heavier traffic from patients coming in from the north and west sides of the city and from new businesses serving the hospital.
"We do anticipate there will be some new use of the road because of the hospital," Babcock said.