December 7, 2022 - City of Fort Wayne leaders today announced a record of $38.5 million in neighborhood infrastructure improvements occurred throughout the community this construction season.
Deputy Mayor Karl Bandemer and Public Works Division leaders joined other elected officials and neighborhood advocates to highlight the Ludwig Road relocation project, which was one of the major investments this year.
This project was a coordinated effort between the City of Fort Wayne, Indiana Department of Transportation (INDOT) and area property owners to improve safety, provide better access and enhance pedestrian connectivity. The construction investment of this portion of the project was $4.9 million with INDOT participating with a $2.2 million share. INDOT has also invested in improving Coldwater Road and the I-69 northbound ramp.
Completed 2022 project list
In addition to this project, all four quadrants of the City saw enhancements through investments that included sidewalks, street lighting, concrete street reconstruction, asphalt resurfacing, chip and seal, trails, alleys and bridges.
Neighborhood infrastructure highlights
*Comprehensive street repairs in 7 neighborhoods
*2 arterial concrete street rehabilitation projects
*2 new street improvement projects
*6 traffic projects
*6 new sidewalk construction projects
*6 brick alleys
*20 concrete alley replacements
*3 major trail projects
*5 bridge projects
*22 projects in study/design/land acquisition phase
*Approximately 40 centerline miles of asphalt resurfacing
*Approximately 8 miles of chip and seal replacement
*Approximately 3 miles of asphalt overlay of chip and seal streets
In 2017, the City Administration and a majority of City Council members came together to provide additional funding for alley work and sidewalks in neighborhoods. At that time, City Councilmen Dr. John Crawford, Tom Didier, Tom Freistroffer, Glynn Hines, Geoff Paddock and Michael Barranda voted in favor of an income tax plan to provide additional revenues for needed neighborhood infrastructure enhancements and future phases of riverfront development.
More information about alley improvements
There are 142 miles of alleys throughout the city. Since 2017, the City of Fort Wayne has invested in the reconstruction/rehabilitation of the following alleys:
Concrete - 10.2 miles of 69 miles complete (14.8%)
Asphalt - .5 mile of 10 miles complete (5 %)
Brick - .9 mile of 2 miles complete (50%)
Chip and Seal - 1.9 miles of 2 miles complete (95%)
There are also 37 miles of gravel alleys that are regraded every year and the remaining 22 miles are paper/unimproved alleys.
Historically, alleys didn’t receive the level of investment roads and streets received due to the low volume of traffic served by alleys. With limited resources, municipalities have had to prioritize investments in roads and streets that serviced thousands of vehicles per day rather than alleys which may only serve the few homes that have frontage along them. Before 2017, asphalt and concrete alleys were patched as needed, gravel alleys were graded every year, and chip and seal alleys were given a chip seal treatment every few years. All of the work was usually performed by the Street Department based on alley ratings.
During the last few years, the efforts of the Public Works Division have been primarily focused on reconstructing original concrete alleys, based on their PASER (Pavement Surface Evaluation & Rating) ratings. Brick alleys are replaced with brick and contractors typically perform the work. Many of the brick alleys are historic and are protected by City Ordinance G-11-05-03, enacted to protect the integrity of historic brick streets. The brick must be replaced with salvaged brick and not newly manufactured bricks, per the ordinance. The City of Fort Wayne currently maintains a stockpile of historic paver bricks that have been unearthed from other street projects, as well as purchased from other communities.
Due to the number of alleys that are in very poor and poor condition, the Public Works Division has been prioritizing alleys that serve higher traffic volumes, such as businesses and parking lots, over alleys that serve a small number of households. However, the goal is to get all alleys addressed over time.
More information about bridge improvements
In November of 2017, Allen County transferred the maintenance of all 95 bridges within the City limits to the City of Fort Wayne. This included four bridges that the County had under contract to design: the Edsall Ave. Bridge over the Norfolk Southern Railroad, the Stonehenge Blvd. Bridge in Canterbury Green, the East State Blvd. Bridge over the Bullerman Drain and the Van Buren St. Bridge over the St. Marys River. The city’s Public Works Division promptly transferred the engineering contracts from the County to the City and proceeded to move forward with design, and eventually construction, of these bridges.
The Public Works Division created a bridge maintenance department with a Bridge Program Manager and a Maintenance Supervisor who work with several seasonal helpers to perform routine and preventative maintenance functions. They also invested in a barge which was added to the fleet used for bridge maintenance functions which includes removal of debris from the bridge piers that could cause more serious erosion to the substructure.
The City of Fort Wayne Engineers office, headed by Patrick Zaharako, City Engineer, assisted by the Assistant City Engineer, oversees bridge maintenance responsibilities. They have created a maintenance program to extend the life of the bridges. This program includes the following elements:
- Preventative Maintenance
- Annual deck cleaning of 80 bridges to remove all dirt, grit, and debris to minimize standing water on the bridge deck. This not only helps prolong the bridge life, it is also aesthetically pleasing and prevents clogging of the storm drains on the bridge.
- Annual deck sealing of approximately 15 bridges to minimize salt intrusions into deck which reduces deterioration from corrosion, thereby extending deck life by 5-10 years.
- Routine Maintenance
- Deck drain cleaning to remove debris and sediment from the drains so that water drains quicker and does not stand on the bridge deck.
- Foliage removal and undergrowth spraying to minimize deck shading so that they dry as quickly as possible.
- Replacing rip-rap on the bridge ends to prevent erosion around the bridges and minimize undergrowth.
- Inspecting all 95 bridges twice a year.
More information about sidewalk improvements
The City of Fort Wayne currently has approximately 1,581 miles of sidewalk. Most of these sidewalks are along residential streets and neighborhoods. Unfortunately, many of our major thoroughfares do not have sidewalks on either side. These major thoroughfares connect activity centers such as schools, libraries and other public facilities, neighborhoods and shopping centers. With no sidewalk connecting them, the only way to get to them is by motor vehicle, which makes our streets busier with vehicular traffic for short distance trips.
In 2017, Fort Wayne Community Schools (FWCS) identified approximately 72 miles of sidewalk connections to students who lived within ½ mile of an elementary school and 1 mile of a middle school. This was due to reductions in property taxes that resulted in reduced bus transportation for school children.
With the implementation of the increase to the Local Income Tax in 2017, a dedicated revenue source was created for new sidewalk construction as well as repair of existing sidewalk. Prior to the creation of this revenue source, the only new sidewalk that was constructed was with new roadway projects that included sidewalk as part of the design. Prioritization of these projects were typically to address vehicular capacity issues. Repair of existing sidewalk was done by petition and cost share with adjacent property owners.
Since 2017, the focus has been on building new sidewalk where none exists in areas that have been identified as priorities by FWCS and also by the Walk Fort Wayne plan. Sidewalk is also included whenever a new roadway design project is being developed. The City is focused on eliminating those vehicular trips of ½ mile or less that can be taken on foot via sidewalk and creating a more active transportation network. This goal is also intended to decrease unnecessary vehicular traffic on our streets and reduce vehicular capacity that is not needed. Since 2017, we have built 15 miles of new sidewalk as standalone projects.
With respect to sidewalk repair, we estimate there is approximately 1,581 miles of sidewalk. Assuming 30% of this sidewalk is in a state of disrepair, if we spend the $100 per linear foot of a 5-foot sidewalk, the cost to repair every sidewalk in 2022 would have been approximately $251 million. of the approximately 1,581 miles of sidewalk and assuming 30% of this is in state of disrepair, at $100 per linear foot of 5-foot wide sidewalk cost to repair (2022 $), we will need approximately $251 million to fix every sidewalk. We currently have between $1.5M and $2.1M to invest annually on dedicated sidewalk repair projects. Due to this reason we prioritize sidewalk repairs as follows:
- Areas where known ADA needs exist.
- Areas that service a park, school, library or other public space (high pedestrian traffic areas). We will start with the immediate perimeter of the areas surrounding these facilities, and as we get caught up with them, move out a block at a time.
- Areas that are served by public transit.
We currently use several methods to address them as follows:
- Complete removal and replacement
- Trip hazard elimination – involves horizontal sawing or grinding of sidewalk that has heaved by no more than 1½ inches
- Levelling – involves resetting slabs that are still intact (no cracks or damage) but have sunk due to settlement or been heaved due tree roots
While items 2 and 3 above are funded 100% with City funds, we use the following mechanisms to fund sidewalk projects where complete removal and replacement is needed:
- Fully funded by City
- 50/50 cost share
- Included with adjacent roadway projects
The cost share program is the most viable option for getting sidewalk fixed sooner than later if you do not fall within the parameters described above to prioritize sidewalk repairs. This program helps us leverage limited public funds with private contributions. Cost share can be accomplished in a multitude of ways as follows:
- Property owner pays the full cost share amount.
- Neighborhood association can pay the cost share amount.
- Property owners can use Barret Law to pay the cost share amount. This is a low interest (3%) loan that can be paid over a period of up to 20 years. If unpaid, it would go against a lien on the property.
Looking ahead to 2023, residents and businesses will see a continuation of the City's commitment to neighborhood infrastructure projects with a planned record investment of $48.3 million, which includes $39.5 million for streets/roads/bridges, $6.4 million for sidewalks and alleys, and $2.4 million for trails. Since 2014, the City has invested more than $250 million in neighborhood infrastructure enhancements.
“I’m encouraged by the ongoing progress we’re making to enhance neighborhood infrastructure throughout Fort Wayne,” said Mayor Tom Henry. “Neighborhoods are the backbone of our community and it’s critical to invest in this valuable resource. We recognize that strong and vibrant neighborhoods help position us as a quality of life and economic development leader.”