DYER | Jeff Van Hecke says he’s been hearing it loud and clear from residents on each side of the state line: no Main Street extension.
Van Hecke is part of a group of neighbors in the Meadows subdivision in Dyer who’ve spearheaded a grass-roots protest against the project.
The group’s signs dot numerous yards along Main Street. Since they include Van Hecke’s cellphone number, he’s been getting the calls in support of the group’s efforts.
“I’m getting calls from people in Illinois, Briar Creek, Briar Ridge, White Oaks Estates, Schererville. Nobody wants this road,” he said. “I get three to four calls a day, it’s been overwhelming.”
Dyer officials plan to meet with officials in Munster at 4 p.m. Monday to talk about how the project will affect Dyer residents, particularly those in the Meadows. The meeting isn't open to the public.
Although Dyer has no direct involvement in the Main Street extension, council members have pledged to do whatever they can to lessen its impact on residents.
“I really appreciate what the Town Council’s doing,” Van Hecke said. “It’s good that they’re stepping up and doing what’s right (for residents).”
Town Council President Joe Cinko said, “We’re in full support of our residents."
Topping the list of council members' concerns is that the extension as designed is too close to Dyer homes.
“The (current) alignment is totally unacceptable,” Cinko said. “We’re hoping (Munster will) move if further from our residents. I’m sure there’s going to be healthy debate, but at the end of the road we’ve got to do what’s right for our residents.”
The project to extend Main Street to connect with Joe Orr Road is being spearheaded by Munster, Lynwood, the Illinois Department of Transportation and the Federal Highway Administration. The four-lane road is to be built on right of way Dyer does not own, but which runs directly to the north of the Meadows subdivision and south of the Lansing Municipal Airport. Main Street east of Sheffield Avenue and west of Calumet Avenue would be widened to four lanes.
Van Hecke said he has been involved in the issue since 2007, when he first learned the extension would be a four-lane road.
“It doesn’t make a lot of sense,” he said. “It’s all residential around there.”
On the north side of the road, there will be the Lansing airport to deal with. Van Hecke said he learned at a Northwestern Indiana Regional Planning Commission meeting that there is no federal money set aside for the project.
Because federal money is already available for the 45th Avenue overpass project in Munster, Van Hecke asked why Munster doesn't switch east-west extension plans to that road. Also, traffic flow is probably heavier north and south, rather than east and west, he said.
His group plans to follow up with the Dyer council after the meeting, he said.
“We’re going to do everything we can," he said.