The city’s Redevelopment Commission is looking at changes to the second phase of a comprehensive Main Street improvement project.

City engineer John Sprague is looking at alternate options on how to reconnect Felt King Road into Main Street as part of the Main Street Phase II project, a $4 million effort being paid for, in part, with a state grant.

Sprague told the RDC back in December that several organizations, including the Indiana Department of Environmental Management and the state Department of Natural Resources, were paying careful attention to how the city planned to go about straightening the intersection of Main Street and Felt King Road.

The original plan was to realign Felt King Road by taking it to the east, right through some woods there.

But that raised red flags for everything from wildlife habitat to wetland mitigation.

Sprague told the RDC, which is footing part of the bill for the project, that after months of investigation into the city’s plan, they’ve come to a “fork in the road,” quite literally.

The “preferred” realignment of Felt King Road through the woods, Sprague said, which brings it to an arguably safer 90-degree turn onto Main Street, will likely cost upwards of $350,000 in mitigation costs.

It also, Sprague said, kicks up the required state environmental document by two whole levels, which costs additional time and money as well.

But there are other options, he told the RDC. And he presented two.

The first would be to take Felt King Road to the west, around the substation there and connect into Ramsey Road. It meets the goal, he said, but would require property acquisition.

The other option is to keep the intersection essentially where it is but to transform it into a kind of oval or even “dog bone” shaped roundabout, Sprague said.

The roundabout would then connect Felt King Road, Sievers Road and Main Street.

“But if we find that that will cost an additional $2 million, $350,000 (of the preferred option) doesn’t look too bad,” he said.

Sprague said he is currently looking at the estimated cost of the two alternate plans and hopes to come back before the RDC soon with a better idea of which would better suit the city’s goals of making the intersection safer and less convoluted, but also without adding on too much to the overall expected cost.

The RDC only recently completed the $4 million reconstruction of Main Street from 22nd Street out to Jamestown Apartments, including wider lanes, sidewalks and lighting.

City officials received a federal grant to help pay for 80% of the estimated $4 million cost of Phase II, and that money is expected to be released in the summer of 2021.

Sprague hopes to also pursue Main Street Phase III, which would then take the project out to George Rogers Clark Middle School at Richard Bauer Drive, at about the same time, or 2022.

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