VALPARAISO | With construction of the five-points roundabout expected to begin soon, the city set up a Web page to help people deal with the schedule and road closings. There's even a video on how to drive in a two-lane roundabout.
The page can be accessed at http://www.ci.valparaiso.in.us/index.aspx?NID+1243. It includes a history of the project and, if there are any questions the page doesn't answer, residents can ask them at a public meeting set for 7 p.m. April 3 in the community room of the Valparaiso YMCA.
The "News and Updates" section of the page will keep drivers updated on the project's progress. Bids for the project were opened by the Indiana Department of Transportation two weeks ago, and Walsh and Kelly had the apparent low bid at $2.27 million. The project was estimated to cost $2.48 million.
City Engineering Director Tim Burkman said, "Given the high volume of traffic that travels through this busy intersection, our goal is to keep the public as well-informed as possible throughout construction. This Web page will be a useful tool in accomplishing that objective."
The city also will be providing updates on its Facebook page and via Twitter. NIPSCO already is moving its utility lines in preparation for the project, and the underground connections for the signals are being moved so they can continue to operate as long as needed during construction.
Construction is expected to start by late April or early May and is scheduled for completion by November. It will be done in three phases, and traffic will be maintained on Calumet Avenue throughout the work. Closures will be needed on the Vale Park Road and Roosevelt Road legs at various times.
The first phase will be on Roosevelt Road, but, because the lane is being shifted to the east, two lanes of traffic will be maintained on Roosevelt for this phase. During the second phase, the east leg of Vale Park will be closed and Calumet will be reduced to one lane in each direction.
The western side of the intersection will be closed for the final phase, and Calumet will be shifted to the new east lanes but will not be able to turn east on Vale Park. The city will be doing water line replacement and upgrades during the project because some of the water lines are about 80 years old.
More than 80 percent of the project, including the water main work, will be funded by federal money from two programs: the Highway Safety Improvement Program and the Congestion Mitigation Air Quality program. The remaining funding is coming from the city's Redevelopment Commission.
Planning and design of the roundabout began in 2008, and the final design was done by American Structurepoint. Burkman said the intersection had 61 accidents over the past three years, most of them involving head-on and right-angle collisions, left turns and disregarding the signals. Eleven injuries were reported.
City officials have said that roundabouts virtually eliminate these types of accidents and reduce the severity of most accidents.