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Dupont project expected to top $10 million

December 30, 2016

Construction bids to widen Dupont Road between Lima and Coldwater roads will be accepted as early as July, Fort Wayne Public Works officials said Thursday.

Design work began about five years ago, but the corridor has been on the city’s radar for improvements for more than 20 years, City Engineer Shan Gunawardena said. The section to be widened is currently two lanes, one in each direction.

The improvements will include widening the road to two lanes in each direction, with dedicated turn lanes to reduce congestion. The Pufferbelly Trail will extend along the south side of Dupont, crossing under the road to connect to the Salomon Farm Trail. A 5-foot-wide sidewalk will be installed along the north side of the road. The idea, Gunawardena said, is to encourage more pedestrian activity.

“Hopefully we might reduce some of the unnecessary traffic,” Gunawardena said. “The biggest thing we try to look at is eliminating the trips that are half a mile or less or from one parking lot to another.”

Although the project has not yet been advertised for bids, Gunawardena estimated total project costs will be more than $10 million, 80 percent of which will be federally funded. In 2012, city officials estimated the overall project would cost about $12.2 million. Construction is expected to begin next fall and continue through 2019.

Residential and commercial development in the targeted area has significantly increased in recent decades, Gunawardena said, resulting in traffic flow increase of 80 percent to 90 percent in some sections.

According to Gunawardena, traffic along Dupont Road from Lima to Oaktree roads increased from 12,900 vehicles per day in 1996 to 21,400 per day in 2015; from Oaktree to East Limberlost Trail, traffic increased from 9,900 vehicles per day in 1995 to 21,700 in 2014; and from East Limberlost Trail to Coldwater Road, traffic increased from 13,700 vehicles per day in 1997 to more than 25,000 per day in 2016.

“It’s a combination of all the development (along Dupont Road) but also the fact that Lima and Coldwater developed in both directions and out, so that’s created a lot more traffic in that area,” Public Works spokesman Frank Suarez said. “The school has grown tremendously too, so there’s a lot more buses, a lot more people.”

According to records from the Allen County recorder, more than 640 homes have been built near Dupont Road between Coldwater and Lima roads since 1986.

City Councilman Tom Didier, R-3rd, whose district spans most of the construction area, said he’s excited about the project plans, especially the ease of access and streetscape improvements.

“I know it’s been a long time coming and the road needed to be upgraded big time,” Didier said. “I’m very encouraged by what the plans look like, and I think it’s really going to help the neighborhoods.”

However, Didier said he is concerned about an extended period of time in 2018 when Dupont Road may be inaccessible to traffic. Didier said he’s working with Public Works to find a solution to avoid hurting businesses.

dgong@jg.net