More than 50,000 vehicles navigate Coliseum Boulevard each day between Parnell and Crescent avenues, making it one of Fort Wayne's busiest – and often most congested – stretches.
But motorists could get some relief in 2014, when the Indiana Department of Transportation plans to start a much-needed $5 million project that would add two lanes of traffic to Indiana 930 (Coliseum) east of Memorial Coliseum.
Highway officials believe the work will help traffic flow more quickly along one of the city's key business corridors, which funnels heavy traffic to and from IPFW, Ivy Tech-Northeast, the coliseum and Fort Wayne's east side.
“We're pretty excited about the project,” said Dan Avery, director of the Northeast Indiana Regional Coordinating Council, an area traffic planning agency. “It's something we've been trying to work on with INDOT for a number of years.”
Regional traffic planners have been eyeing the improvements for at least 10 years, calling for the additional lanes in several of the coordinating council's long-term plans, Avery said.
Susan Doell, a project manager with INDOT, said the project is scheduled to start in spring 2014 and last throughout the construction season. No local tax dollars would go toward the project, which instead would use mostly federal funds, Doell said.
The roughly 1.4-mile segment of Indiana 930 ranks as one of Fort Wayne's most congested thoroughfares for a variety of reasons, Avery said, including the nearby colleges, the heavily developed northeast-side suburban areas and the coliseum.
Although local traffic officials complained in 2009 that INDOT was not fully cooperating with their plans to ease traffic along the highway, Avery said Wednesday that timetables for many state projects simply depend on funding availability and priorities.
“It just takes projects awhile to rise to the top sometimes,” he said.
Doell said INDOT likely would have begun the work sooner if not for the four-lane bridge over the St. Joseph River just west of Anthony, which will need to be widened, adding to the project's cost and scope.
Under the plan, the east- and westbound sides of Coliseum each will get a third travel lane, for a total of six lanes. Doell said INDOT would try to limit headaches for motorists by keeping two full lanes open throughout the project.
Avery said the improvements also could allow for a left-turn lane from eastbound Coliseum to northbound Anthony at IPFW, which previously had to be removed because cars waiting to turn left often spilled into the eastbound travel lanes.
Because INDOT tries to build projects with 20 years of growth in mind, Doell said the work should keep Coliseum traffic running smoothly through at least 2034. Avery also described the project as a “long-term fix” for area congestion.