Photos and video from last Tuesday’s press conference held to re-open Calhoun Street to two-way traffic.
The press release:
Mayor opens two-way Calhoun Street
Two blocks feature 45 trees, new sidewalks with brick insets, southbound traffic between Berry and Washington
Fort Wayne Mayor Tom Henry became the first person today to drive south on the two blocks of Calhoun Street between Berry Street and Washington Boulevard, following the completion of the Calhoun Street improvement project.
“I have been a supporter of two-way Calhoun since I took office, and I am honored to be the first of many to drive south on these blocks,” said Mayor Tom Henry. “This project is critical to improve downtown traffic circulation, and the improvements we made will foster the kind of retail business development Fort Wayne residents want to see in the heart of their city. I appreciate the patience of drivers, pedestrians and business owners on Calhoun Street as we constructed these improvements.”
Started in August, the project included the addition of delivery lanes in both blocks, a southbound travel lane, turn lanes at the intersections and 45 4-inch caliber trees approximately 20-foot tall in shared soil vaults for improved tree health and lifespan. The design widened the useable sidewalks on both sides of the street. The project will also improve access to Calhoun Street south of downtown.
Two-way Calhoun continues design elements found in other downtown corridors with brick paver insets in the new sidewalks, LED paver lights and historically styled streetlights and poles.
“It was important to preserve the integrity of Calhoun as we made these improvements. We knew these two blocks are a vital part of the downtown experience, and we spent many hours planning the design elements and working with downtown stakeholders to make sure the street remained a unique part of the community,” said Public Works Director Bob Kennedy. “I am sure drivers will find this change welcome as they navigate downtown, yet pedestrians will also appreciate the wide sidewalks and improved street lighting.”
In 2006, City Council approved plans to convert the one-way section of Calhoun Street to two-way traffic after a study found a need for improved traffic circulation following the closure of Harrison Street for the Grand Wayne Center expansion and Webster Street in front of the expanded Allen County Public Library earlier this decade.
“Converting Calhoun back to a two-way traffic pattern has been in the planning stages for some time,” said Community Development Director John Urbahns. “As we designed the project, Community Development and Public Works listened to the property owners, both in this two-block area and farther south, and we considered how best to support the downtown business district to fit our commitment to multi-modal transportation. We believe we achieved a design that offers both efficiency and aesthetic attractiveness. We know this change adds to the resurgence of energy and momentum in our downtown.”
Bike racks, street furniture and about 60 cast-stone planters, matching those on the Washington-Jefferson block, will be installed in the coming months. Fort Wayne Parks and Recreation will maintain the planters. The City will invite downtown stakeholders and other interested parties to attend a presentation to help create the final plan for additional features on the new two-way Calhoun.
The completion of the project has also garnered support from the Downtown Improvement District.
“The Fort Wayne Downtown Improvement District welcomes the reopening of Calhoun Street, traditionally one of downtown Fort Wayne’s most pedestrian-friendly as well as commerce-oriented corridors,” said Rich Davis, DID president. “We commend the planners, engineers and contractors for their sensitivity to the needs of local businesses during the construction phase and look forward to working with the City to make this street not only a pleasant year-round thoroughfare but also one of downtown’s preferred destinations.”
The City’s Public Works and Community Development divisions in cooperation with Bonar Group and Design Collaborative designed the project. Hipskind Concrete was the lead contractor.
The project cost about $1.1 million, funded through the 2009 CEDIT bond.
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During the press conference, a car hit and dragged one of the orange cones being used to block off the south-bound lane of Calhoun Street. Â Here’s a video clip of the car as it passed by. Â After Greg Leatherman finishes his comments, Mayor Henry adds some humor Â to the moment.
The press conference video clips: