Drake road project funded

Article by Steve Garbacz of KPC Media

Kendallville will receive $3.53 million grant for 2022 work

KENDALLVILLE — After shrinking the size of a project to rebuild Drake Road, Kendallville successfully clinched a $3.53 million grant for the project.

It will be a couple years before construction actually begins, but when it does, the city will be reconstructing the entire corridor between Main Street and Weston Avenue.

The Indiana Department of Transportation announced the recipients of the federal aid projects last week. Those federal aid grants are an 80/20 matching grant, meaning Kendallville will need to put up a fifth of the overall cost of the project.

Kendallville applied for the same grant last year, but was not funded because the scope and cost of the project was too large, the city was told by INDOT. In 2017, the city was seeking a grant for work between Main Street and S.R. 3, with a total price tag that would have run about $6 million.

This year, the city cut the project down, stopping the reconstruction at Weston Avenue, which is just west of the new East Noble Middle School building. Kendallville City Engineer Scott Derby said the expected cost including design, preparation, construction and inspection will run about $5.1 million.

“I’m elated and so grateful for all of the elected officials and community officials that wrote letters of support for the project. These grants are extremely competitive,” Mayor Suzanne Handshoe said Monday.

Kendallville will need to put about $1 million in matching funds toward the project. The city has already budgeted some money for the early design expenses and will try to devote some tax dollars out of the yearly budget. The Kendallville Local Development Corp., which has more than $1 million in its accounts this year, is also planning to put up some money, although the details haven’t been discussed yet.

The city may need to take out a loan if there is any matching amount remaining when construction ramps up in 2022, the mayor said.

For city residents, the project is similar to the recently completed Fairview Boulevard project in many ways.

Like Fairview, the Drake Road project is a federal grant that’s scheduled out years in advance. The city will need to meet federal requirements for the project, which includes doing some extensive environmental testing prior to any ground being moved.

Also like Fairview, drivers should expect to see a similar type of construction project, Derby said. Crews will tear out and completely rebuild the roadway, as well as add a 10-foot multi-use path on the south side of the road and a standard five-foot sidewalk on the north side of the street. The city will also install the same kind of decorative lighting used elsewhere in the city along the roadway, too.

“It’s going to look similar to what was done on Fairview Boulevard,” Derby said.

Unique to Drake Road, construction crews will be establishing a pedestrian crossing at the railroad tracks just west of Main Street, will put in a mid-block pedestrian crossing between Sunset Park and the East Noble Middle School property, and add turn lanes to help drivers get in and out of the school more easily.

The new middle school building was a major impetus for the project, since East Noble officials expect some foot and bicycle traffic to the new building when it opens this fall. As of now, there’s nowhere for pedestrians or cyclists to safely travel on Drake Road, which is a significant east-west corridor between downtown Kendallville and S.R. 3.