A much-anticipated repaving project for pothole-strewn Cline Avenue will begin in April, following an emergency closure for one weekend in January and frantic efforts to temporarily fill its cratered surface.
Ramps and service roads for Cline Avenue will also be repaved as part of the project, said INDOT spokesman Jim Pinkerton. Some of those have the worst potholes and in places the pavement has almost completely disintegrated.
The Indiana Department of Transportation continues to pour its available resources into pothole patching in the region, but there is no doubt the Northwest corner of the state absorbed the worst of winter's wrath, according to INDOT Deputy Commissioner Bob Alderman.
"The lion's share of the damage has taken place in Lake and Porter counties," Alderman told a meeting of the Northwestern Indiana Regional Planning Commission executive board on Thursday. "It's obvious when you drive on those roads."
Before winter hit, INDOT had already awarded Rieth Riley Construction, of Goshen, the $7.3 million contract to repave Cline Avenue from the Borman Expressway to Columbus Drive and to rehabilitate the bridge over Gary Avenue. Preparatory work should start in early April.
Pavement milling will begin by late April, Pinkerton said. That will lead to traffic restrictions on Cline Avenue, but no closures are planned.
Portage Mayor James Snyder asked Alderman why so many overhead lights are out on the Borman Expressway.
Alderman attributed the problem to copper thieves, who have been stripping the wire out of the poles. Police recently apprehended one such thief at his home where he was burning the coating off stolen wires.
The NIRPC executive board on Thursday also approved an amendment of its Transportation Improvement Plan to include preliminary engineering for 15 INDOT bridge projects throughout the region, including three on Cline Avenue east of where the new toll bridge is to be constructed. Most of those projects are scheduled for 2018.
The executive board also approved a second amendment to its Transportation Improvement Plan that included seven "livable centers" grants for seven communities. The grants are among the first of their type made under NIRPC's 2040 Comprehensive Regional Plan.
NIRPC attorney David Hollenbeck updated the executive board on the status of negotiations with the disability-rights agency Everybody Counts, following its filing of a lawsuit late last year. Everybody Counts alleged NIRPC was not living up to a 2006 federal consent decree that forced local transit agencies to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act.
The judge in the case ordered both sides to meet to work out their differences. Hollenbeck said the two sides had held a productive meeting and asked the judge for more time to work things out, which he granted. They must now submit a joint report to the court by March 28.
Everybody Counts Executive Director Teresa Torres said she could not talk in detail about the negotiations. Other than that, the two sides now agree on the differences that remain. She said progress has also been made in including members of NIRPC in the process.