Chesterton Tribune



'Calumet Connection' plan recommends lane narrowing south of Porter Avenue

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The consulting firm hired to conceptualize a facelift of the “Calumet Connection,” as the Chesterton Redevelopment Commission has dubbed it--that half-mile stretch of South Calumet Road between Porter Ave. and Driftwood Commons--has completed its work.

At its meeting Monday night, the Town Council formally took receipt of the “Calumet Connection Master Plan,” prepared by Butler Fairman & Seufert.

As it happens, the Calumet Connection is technically part of the Dunes-Kankakee Trail as it runs through the Town of Chesterton, from its trailhead at Indiana Dunes State Park to its proposed terminus somewhere along the Kankakee River near Hebron. And on its way through and out of town, the D-K Trail will run along the west side of South Calumet Road.

Butler Fairman & Seufert’s recommendations:

* The trail--which is actually being called a “shared-use path”--will be a minimum of eight feet in width, not only to create “a safe corridor for bicyclists and pedestrians” but also to qualify for grants when it comes time to identify funding sources.

* The trail will be separated from vehicular traffic by at least four feet of buffer--a two-foot recovery shoulder and two-foot section of curb and gutter--and as many as five. Most of the half-mile share-used pathway will be buffered by a five-foot strip of grass.

* “Decorative street lamps”--matching those already in place in the Downtown--“will provide safety for the users of the trails as well as provide an aesthetic element to the corridor.”

* In what Member Emerson DeLaney, R-5th, referred to as a “traffic-calming element,” the existing lanes of South Calumet Road north of the Chesterton Post Office will be narrowed from 14 feet in width to 10 feet. The narrowing will eliminate the need to acquire additional right-of-way for the sidewalks and it will have “an extra added benefit by slowing traffic along the corridor in a residential area,” as both residents and businesses “indicated they felt traffic was moving too fast through this area.”

* Finally, the entire roadway between Porter Ave. and Driftwood Commons will be milled and re-surfaced, with new curb and gutter added on both sides of the roadway.

Member Jim Ton, R-1st, emphasizing that Butler Fairman & Seufert’s master plan is a “conceptual study” only, said that the “next step is design-build.” And he added that it would behoove the Redevelopment Commission, looking to fund the project through TIF moneys and available grants, not to wait too long to pull the trigger.

“This is an exciting plan to complete,” agreed Member Emerson DeLaney, R-5th. “It connects the South Calumet Business District and brings that streetscaping all the way up to the Downtown.”

DeLaney also expressed his appreciation of the lane-narrowing recommendation. “This is going to work perfectly,” he said. “We won’t have to go out and capture additional right-of-way. And it will have the effect of being traffic calming.”

Ton did note that the plan was prepared following a series of input meetings with stakeholders, private property owners, and the public. “We’ve done our due diligence,” he said.

South Shore Heritage has hefty price tag

In other business, Lorelei Weimer, executive director of the Porter County Convention, Recreation, and Visitor Commission, reported the findings of a feasibility study conducted on a proposal to use donated South Shore railroad infrastructure to construct a working railroad connecting Dune Park Station, the Dorothy Buell Memorial Visitor Center, and the towns of Porter and Chesterton.

The findings:

* Connecting Dune Park Station to the Visitor Center would cost a minimum of $18,746,936; connecting the Visitor Center to Porter, $22,501,986; and connecting the Visitor Center to Chesterton, $40,360,643.

In other words, it would be prohibitively expensive to do any of that.

On the other hand, a moving display constructed at the Visitor Center itself--including a mile-long loop of track, a boarding platform, and a maintenance building--could be built for $8,889,057.

Weimer, for her part, endorsed a moving display on the order of the one described by the feasibility study and said that the next step would be an economic impact study and operational analysis.



Posted 10/27/2015




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