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Fort Wayne Reader
While a final vote isn’t expected until the Tuesday, August 11th meeting of the Fort Wayne City Council, plans to convert a downtown portion of Calhoun Street from one-way to two-way appear to be a done deal. Currently, Calhoun Street between Washington Boulevard and Berry Street runs one-way northbound. In a preliminary vote on August 4th, council members voted 5 to 2 to hire a construction company to reconfigure that two-block stretch of road for two-way traffic. Although talk of making this switch as been floating around for the past few years, the Henry Administration has been trying to turn that talk into action for the last year. Slowly but surely, downtown streets have been whittled away due to major developments like the expanded Grand Wayne, which eliminated part of Harrison Street, and the revamped Allen County Public Library, which carved into Webster Street. These development left Calhoun as the only option for a potential north/south corridor through the heart of downtown.
“Ensuring a sensible and logical flow of downtown traffic is important to visitors and residents alike,” said Mayor Henry in July of last year. “Calhoun Street is a wonderful pedestrian corridor in our downtown, but the one-way traffic coupled with the much-needed expansions of the Grand Wayne Center and Allen County Public Library that closed local streets can make this section of downtown challenging to find a direct route to attractions, businesses and restaurants.” Initially, the hope was to have the two-way conversion completed before the arrival of another major downtown development, Harrison Square. But more than a year later, the plan was still the subject of heated debate. While a number of new and longstanding downtown business owners applauded the idea of a two-way Calhoun as a means to boost traffic, several prominent community leaders opposed the plan saying it would ruin what they felt was a very attractive portion of downtown.
However, armed with plans that promise to retain and enhance the aesthetics of Calhoun Street, city planners were able to convince a majority of council members to okay allocating the slightly more than $1-million for the project. The new plan keeps all but five of the 50 trees there, but gives them more room to grow. The sidewalks will be more narrow but should provide ample walkway. The plan also includes added room for delivery trucks to service downtown businesses.
If the plan is approved as expected on Aug. 11th, construction could begin before the end of the month.