SOUTH BEND -- Residents of the northeast neighborhood, along with city and state officials, have been talking for decades about plans to improve the flow of traffic on Indiana 23.
They won't have to wait much longer to see some action.
The Indiana Department of Transportation is scheduled to open bids this week on the project to widen the state road from two to four lanes between Twyckenham Drive and Chalfant Street, just south of Perley Primary Fine Arts Academy.
The project -- which includes a realignment of the Five Points intersection at Corby Boulevard and Eddy Street -- will cost between $7 million and $12 million to build plus $4.8 million for property acquisition and related expenses, according to InDOT estimates.
InDOT spokesman Jim Pinkerton said the first parts of the project will be moving utilities and clearing buildings along the south side of Indiana 23.
He said workers probably will begin building the new lanes this fall, and the expanded thoroughfare will be complete by the end of 2013. The road will remain open to traffic during construction.
Many northeast residents and businesses are ready for the change.
"We've been talking about it for over 20 years. I know everyone's
happy it's finally getting going," said Bill Stenz, president of the
Northeast Neighborhood Council.
"It needs to be done," he added. "It's just a huge bottleneck."
About 14,600 vehicles travel through the mile-long stretch on an average day.
Roberto Parisi, who has owned Parisi's Ristorante Italiano for 30
years on Indiana 23, said widening the road will be "a big plus" for
businesses in the area.
"I think it's the greatest thing ever," he said. "I'm really anxious
to see it started -- the sooner the better."
The expansion and realignment of Indiana 23 will affect 66 properties.
Pinkerton said the state has purchased about 90 percent of those so
far and will probably buy the remaining few by July.
The Boy Scouts of America building and a South Bend Housing Authority
apartment complex will not be affected, but several houses and a
former barbecue restaurant east of Five Points will be demolished.
There will be impacts west of Five Points, too.
The building that was home to Club 23 for 24 years will be razed to
accommodate the extension of Campeau Street at Notre Dame Avenue.
Mahmoud Hussein, who closed the bar at the end of 2011, is supportive
of the project, though. He said it will raise his property value and
cut down on the number of car accidents in the neighborhood.
Plus, he said, he still owns enough property at that corner to build a
new bar and restaurant there.
The laundromat and dry cleaner just west of Five Points won't be torn
down because of the road construction, but owner Phil Slatt doubts the
business will survive after the realignment leaves it isolated on a
cul-de-sac at the end of Corby.
Slatt considers the project wasteful. "Every major intersection in
town is busy at 8 in the morning and 5 in the afternoon," he said of
Five Points. "We're just like all the rest."
Phil Byrd, the director of real estate for South Bend Heritage
Foundation, is working with the Northeast Neighborhood Revitalization
Organization on the new Triangle subdivision and other developments.
He said the new Indiana 23 will draw more commercial development to
the Five Points area.
"It's kind of a cornerstone for that part of the neighborhood," he said.
Staff writer Kevin Allen: