Friday, August 28, 2009

Road Construction is a Pain, But the Finished Product Will be Fine . . .

I know how it feels. You're driving along, minding your own business, content that you're going to get to work on time when suddenly, up ahead you see . . . ROAD CLOSED. That ominous, obnoxious and aggravating sign can turn a good mood into a bad one in a split second. Those "Road Closed - Through Traffic Only" signs give hope to the driver who sees this as his opportunity to drive through anyway because after all, he thinks, 'I'm trying to get THROUGH here, aren't I?' Unfortunately, that only means that the road isn't completely finished yet and it's probably a bad thing to drive on it until it is.

Road construction is no fun for the commuter in a hurry, but it's an unfortunate necessity for progress. Especially as it relates here at Fort Harrison.

In May, the Fort Harrison Reuse Authority began mobilization of our $9 million infrastructure construction project for Lawrence Village at the Fort. Trees were cleared, buildings and streets were demolished, and sidewalks, curbs, and existing utilities were removed to make way for new trees, new streets, new sidewalks, new curbs, and new utilities (all of which we put in the ground so we don't have to see those overhead wires anymore.) The aim is to eventually sell remaining property to developers to build new buildings for retail, restaurant, housing, and office users.

In June, we started digging the east drainage pond which curves around the west end of the Benjamin Harrison YMCA. When finished, the pond will feature a quarter mile walking/jogging path around it and will be next to a future park next to Lee Road.

During this month of August, the roads are definitely starting to look more like roads with a lovely coat of lime and sub-base. In fact, one of the contractors described this stone as carpet on the floor of a new home -- getting us nearer to the finished product except you don't really want to walk on this "carpet". We started pouring sidewalks on August 26 at the Ravine on Post Road and we're start pouring curbs on August 31.

When we're done with the Ravine, you'll see a board walk going over what will look like a meandering stream in a bed of large rock (rip rap in construction speak.) We're planting 27 canopy trees and 18 flowering trees in this ravine area as well as 488 shrubs, and over 7,000 perennials and ground cover. The Ravine will be the first park we finish in this project.

By September 3, we should be able to start paving, weather permitting. We'll be able to open Wheeler Avenue, Otis Avenue, Hawkins Road and Birtz Road (from Hawkins south) TO LOCAL TRAFFIC ONLY some time in mid September. After everyone's happily attended the Hoosier Outdoor Experience (presented by the Indiana Department of Natural Resource on the weekend of September 26 & 27 at Fort Harrison State Park,) we'll close down 59th Street at Wheeler for the duration of the project.

By the end of October, landscaping and seeding will be complete. Now, just so you know . . . we're not planting sticks to replace the mature trees we unfortunately had to take out. We're planting nearly 400 beautiful flowering and canopy trees that are 4 inches in diameter to begin with. These trees will go in and put that finishing touch on what could be otherwise considered an unexciting project. We're planting 2,300 shrubs and over 23,000 perennials and ground cover in tree wells, rain gardens and street corners. By December 18, we should be completed with the project, ready for vertical development.

If you or someone you know are interested in learning more about development opportunities here at Lawrence Village at the Fort, give us a call. We are talking with many developers and users who have expressed interest so hopefully some time soon, we'll be able to shout from the roof tops the good news of new development!

FHRA to Have Booth at Lawrence Community Day

Be sure to attend Lawrence Community Day and Chili Cook-Off on Saturday, September 19 from 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. in Lawrence Community Park. The Fort Harrison Reuse Authority will have a booth with information about the current infrastructure construction at the Fort, project pictures both current and future, as well as candy for the kids! If the candy doesn't lure you to this very fun event, let free food samples from local restaurants do the trick. This is a good time so don't miss it!