MERRILLVILLE | Town officials hope to meet right of way acquisition goals to keep the Mississippi Street improvement project on schedule.
Most parcels needed for the project have been acquired, but there are about 12 properties in the midst of condemnation proceedings, Merrillville Town Manager Bruce Spires said.
Town Councilman Shawn Pettit said a goal of acquiring all right of way has been set for Nov. 25.
"I don't know if we're going to get there," Pettit said.
The $8 million project, expected to start next year, will reconstruct and widen Mississippi Street to four lanes from 101st Avenue to just south of U.S. 30.
If the right of way acquisition goes past Nov. 25, the work could still begin next year, but the completion of the enhancements could be pushed into 2016, Pettit said.
That would prolong inconveniences for area businesses, residents and drivers, which is why Pettit is pushing for the project to stay on schedule.
Areas of Mississippi Street within the construction area are in rough condition.
Spires said the road was initially built for minimal traffic. He said there is no base underneath the road, and it's been more than a decade since significant repairs have been completed.
While Merrillville continues pursuing the reconstruction and widening work, another Mississippi Street project is in the planning stages.
Spires said he has met with the Indiana Department of Transportation about creating designated right turn lanes on Mississippi Street on the both sides of U.S. 30.
The project could prevent traffic from backing up there.
Police Chief Joseph Petruch said the work could involve removing a decorative island north of U.S. 30.
Plans also could block drivers on Mississippi Street from accessing a service road in front of the former Wickes Furniture.
Petruch said taking out the access point would force all motorists to use the traffic signal at 79th Avenue and Mississippi Street to enter and exit the commercial area.
The project could begin in the fall 2014, Spires said.