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CROWN POINT — A small, shivering group of officials gathered Friday morning for the opening of the first phase of the Summit Street extension east of Broadway.

Construction on the short section of road started in August 2017 and was completed in August of this year, but the opening was delayed four months to allow construction of buildings in the Beacon Hill development to be completed and for NIPSCO to complete the installation of gas and electric service to the area, Jeff Ban, consulting engineer from DVG, said.

"This has been a major undertaking," Mayor David Uran said prior to the ribbon cutting. "Many years of experience have come together to plan this. This is going to create opportunity for our citizens and eventually add $100 million in assessed value to the city and 350 jobs."

Uran said he gets many calls about the traffic problems on 109th Avenue. The opening of the first phase of Summit Street is one step in making the improvements to 109th. The city and 1-65 Beacon Hill Partners are partnering to fund a $25.5 million bond issue for the 109th improvements as well as extensions of Summit and Delaware Parkway.

"This shows the community can come together on the public and private side to create benefits for decades to come," Uran said.

The city will use tax increment financing, money raised from property taxes on the increased value of the land in that area after it is developed, to pay for the bonds. A major commercial development has been in the planning stages for the west side of the I-65 interchange for years.

Uran said no money is coming from the taxpayers for the road improvements. He added the city's assessed value is approaching $2 billion, an increase of about $500 million since 2015.

Bob Rossman, managing member of I-65 Beacon Hill, said, "We are glad to be a part of the community. We appreciate the leadership of the mayor and the council, both of whom have been very forward-thinking."

Uran said a federal Highway Safety Improvement Project for the intersection of 109th and Broadway as far east as the Smith Ditch bridge will be done in 2019. Also, the extension of Delaware Parkway north to 107th Avenue will be completed as part of the preparation for the 109th widening, which will begin in the fall all the way to the Interstate 65 interchange.

By the end of 2020, Uran said 109th will be complete east of the interchange to Iowa Street as well. The city is waiting to see when the state Department of Transportation will complete the widening of 109th through the interchange site. Uran said the city hopes to learn more at a meeting with INDOT in January.

The Summit Street work includes a through lane and dedicated left and right turn lanes on the westbound side and a roundabout connecting to the access road through the Beacon Hill development.

The contractors included Rieth Riley (excavation), V & H Excavation (utilities, including water, storm and sanitary sewer lines), Walsh & Kelly (concrete and paving), DVG Team (engineering) and Cross Property Management (project manager).

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