Work on phase two of Market Street project to begin soon in Warsaw

Phase two of the Market Street reconstruction project in Warsaw will start within days, but the road will remain open this winter during preliminary work, representatives for the city said Monday.

The $2.4 million project will span from Bronson Street to near Hickory Street and will continue for about a year.

Details about the entire project were on display Monday for neighbors who will be affected by the work.

Digging up and reconstruction of the street will not happen until the spring.

Designs call for a widening of the street as well as new street lights and curb that will closely match phase one to the east.

The project also continues in phase two with a wide sidewalk on the south side of the street that will serve as a bike trail.

The changes will result in more parking along the street.

City officials are working with residents to make sure potential problems are minimized.

“The end product will be worth it, but I know there will be some impatience and some heartache when it comes to the construction,” said City Planner Jeremy Skinner.

Officials are hoping motorists will be respectful of barricades along the Market Street route more so than with the Husky Trail project two years ago when motorists were driving around, sometimes moving and even crashing into barricades.

“There’s a real safety issue when that happens,” said Mayor Joe Thallemer.

The meeting was also an opportunity to voice questions.

Some asked about the brightness of the new street lights in phase one, which use LED lighting.

One woman said she believed the new lights are too bright and prefers a softer tone.

Skinner said the difference in brightness comes from the fact that LED light is whiter compared to the yellow, slightly orange light from traditional sodium lights.

Road reconstruction next  year will take place in three segments to minimize traffic strain on the entire road. Those will be from Hickory to Tamarack, Tamarack to Scott and Scott to Bronson streets.

Final paving will be done in one long stretch, though.

A small number of residents turned out for the meeting, and were able to see plans on large maps and on a large interactive map displayed on a widescreen monitor.

Preliminary signage for the construction is already appearing along parts of the road, and city officials say they will work to keep those off private property.

About 19 trees near the curbs along both sides of the street have already been marked for removal, which will happen soon.

During a formal question-and-answer period, removal of trees did not come up, perhaps an indication that residents accept the fact even if they don’t like it after seeing that happen during phase one.

That was the case for Jean Teune, who is a trustee with Trinity United Methodist along Market Street, which will be in the middle of the work.

Teune said she misses many of the trees removed in phase one and will feel the same when it happens in phase two.

“When I came to town in 1971, Market was my favorite street,” said Teune. “I don’t like it now because it feels so naked.”

The city will offer a tree replacement program after construction that will facilitate the planting trees appropriately sized for the project, Skinner said.

The upcoming roadwork falls within the 2nd City Council District, which is represented by Ron Shoemaker.  He said he feels “torn” about the project.

Aside from the aesthetics, Shoemaker said bigger trees hold water and slow down flooding during heavy rainfalls.

He also questioned if the expanded sidewalk for bicycling will be fully embraced. He contends many on bicycles currently just use the street.

“We can’t get people to use the bike path now. It’s always been a question in my mind why we are spending lots of somebody’s money to build a bike path nobody’s going to use,” Shoemaker said.

Some officials said the existing bike trail segment on Market is too short for cyclists to embrace yet, and that will change as the trail lengthens.

Thallemer points out that the Market Street portion of the overall bike system will serve as the backbone that will stretch from Winona Lake through the downtown and west to the City-County Athletic Complex to the west.

The entire bike trail has been in the planning and development stages for years.

In the immediate area, the trail will connect three neighborhood parks along Market: Richardson-Dubois, Krebs Trail Head and Kerr Park.

“With three parks along Market Street, this allows families, kids on bikes, people with strollers, to get safely to any of the parks and eventually to the downtown and to Winona Lake,” Thallemer said.

Shoemaker said he is not opposed to the overall project.

“I shouldn’t stand in the way of progress, but I wish we could save our trees,” Shoemaker said.