VALPARAISO | As a fan of roundabouts, Valparaiso Mayor Jon Costas said the opening of the new interchange at Vale Park Road and Ind. 49 was a special treat.
"It's a two-fer," Costas said at Wednesday's ribbon cutting ceremony referring to the bridge's design that incorporates a roundabout at each end where the entrance and exit ramps are located.
Costas promised they won't be the last to be built in the city.
Costas said the interchange and the roundabouts will improve safety and traffic efficiency at the intersection, which has seen 54 crashes in the past several years resulting in 24 serious injuries and two fatalities.
"While we wish it could be completed years ago, we can be happy it is completed now and will protect the safety of our citizens."
As a biker and runner, Costas said he was pleased with the pathway, which the Indiana Department of Transportation agreed to include in the design at the city's request. He said it complicated the project somewhat, but it will provide safer access to the network of country roads to the east for those who like to pedal or run.
Costas said he already used it for his runs.
The pathway was just one feature that was added to the state's original, simple diamond interchange design. Costas praised INDOT for being receptive to the city's suggestions, which reduced the overall footprint of the project while adding, decorative lighting, sand-colored walls to simulate the area's dunes, the city's name in large, back lit letters on each side of the overpass and colored concrete stamped in a brick pattern around the roundabouts.
"It's a beautiful new gateway to the community," he said. "It's all about teamwork, and every member of our team did a super job of working together. This project will last for many years, and we wanted to take the opportunity to make it something we can all be proud of."
The contractor, G. E. Marshall, will be back in the spring to do seeding. The city will design a landscaping plan for the roundabouts and the bridge approaches in 2013 for construction in 2014.
The $7.2 million cost of the overpass was funded from several sources, including Major Moves money from the state's lease of the Indiana Toll Road, federal National Highway System funds and the local share from the city's Redevelopment Commission. The commission also will fund the landscaping project.
Costas said his father, Bill Costas, who was among the 40 or so attending the opening, was in the state Senate when Ind. 49 was built "And probably had something to do with that."
"Those of us who are elected are not put in office to sit in a chair," Jon Costas said. "We're elected to get results."