Each day, dozens of trains back up traffic on Main Street in Mishawaka. But construction on a new underpass is expected to start soon, perhaps alleviating some headaches. The city has already purchased most of the properties it needs along the Main Street stretch. Now they're trying to settle up with the remaining homes and businesses.
For years, residents along Mishawaka's Main Street corridor have heard about the possibility of an underpass going in. Now, it's just a few months from reality. But some folks are struggling with finalizing their deals to sell to the city, before construction can start.
The eastern stretch of Mishawaka's Main Street looks a bit like a ghost town, boarded up homes and businesses. The city has already purchased 30 some properties, those will be torn down to make room for a new underpass and approach lanes.
“I think this is a well overdue situation, says Main Street businessman R.J. Trevino. Trevino' s business just missed the cut-off. Everything is going just south of his building. He looks forward to improved traffic flow. “If you're here about 3:30 or 4 in the afternoon, it's really bad!”
“Main Street is the only north-south corridor that runs the entire length of the city. It's the main transportation artery that all of the other roads feed off of, says Mishawaka Mayor, Jeff Rea.
But not everyone is as excited about the changes just yet. Ray Buzalski is not happy with his offer from the city. “All we want is fair market value for our business and we want to be justly compensated for loss of business and city is not doing either one,” says Buzalski. He says his business, Loading Zone Liquor, will lose 15-thousand dollars each week that they're out of business in a move.
Meantime, Mayor Rea says the city has about 10 more properties to acquire on the Main Street corridor. He says the city is following state statute in the process. “Never easy to go and buy people's homes and businesses and if you're talking businesses, some have been in excess of 100 years, so to pick up and move is difficult,” says Rea.
Mayor Rea tells us construction will take about two years once it's started this spring. If all goes as planned, the city hopes to open the underpass in late 2008.