FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) — Back in January, Fort Wayne City Utilities announced upcoming work on Superior Street in downtown Fort Wayne between Lafayette and Clinton Streets.
Several weeks were needed for NIPSCO to remove old gas lines that are no longer in use before City Utilities workers could start constructing a consolidated sewer and storm water sewer.
That work will begin soon and won’t conclude until the end of April at the earliest, according to City Utilities Chief of Communications Frank Suarez.
“I understand that it can be an intrusion on their daily routine. They should pay attention and make sure that they are not going fast through a section where there are barricades no matter where it is — in the city, or the county or the state,” Suarez said.
The work being done is one of several projects around town — including the new Deep Rock Tunnel — to help limit sewage running into the rivers.
A consent decree requires the work, and City Utilities came up with an 18-year plan to make the changes. They’re on year 16 of said plan.
When it’s all said and done, the Deep Rock Tunnel will be activated and millions of gallons of sewage won’t make it into the city’s three rivers.
The construction on Superior Street alone will prevent 12 million gallons of water from flowing into the St. Marys River on an annual basis.
In the meantime, the construction signage on Superior can be a bit confusing.
Currently, as you turn onto Superior from Lafayette to head west, there’s a “Road Closed” sign and a detour arrow pointing North. Drivers have to use the east-bound lanes, but it isn’t clear that oncoming traffic won’t be there.
As you head west down Superior and make it to the Barr Street intersection, it’s hard to tell which side of the road to take if there’s no oncoming traffic.
Do you stay in the eastbound lanes or curve back over to the regular lanes on the right side which no longer appear to be blocked off?
It’s a bit more clear if you turn onto Superior from Clinton Street and head east. Once you make it to Barr Street, you’ll find “do not enter” signs that show you must turn onto Barr.
There’s another added element; however, if there is a car in the eastbound lanes at the stop sign like the image above, it doesn’t mean the driver will follow the instructions in front of them.
Once on Sunday and again on Monday, a WANE 15 reporter witnessed a car heading east drive past the “do not enter” signs and was now in the one lane where westbound drivers were supposed to be.
The second instance where that happened is shown in the image above.
Suarez told WANE 15 he has reached out to traffic engineers and it’s possible they could look at the signage in that area and make changes to make it clearer.
Whether or not that happens, he’s hoping people remember what the city is doing there and why it’s a good thing.
“I think people need to remember, and hopefully they’ll be patient with this project, it’s really for the good of the community. When you’re looking at how we use our rivers today and how important they are to us, these projects are important and they will serve us well for a number of years – hundreds of years,” Suarez said.
He added that Fort Wayne City Utilities has worked with all the businesses in that area, like the Gas House and Club Soda, to make sure they feel like people have access to them.
They found that keeping Barr Street open was critical to all the businesses, which is why they arranged to keep it open.