May 1st has arrived and with it comes the start of a major road construction project in South Bend. South Michigan Street, just north of the Bypass, will be torn up for the next few months.
With a lot of development on the South Bend’s south side, the roads have more traffic then they can handle.
Crews will be upgrading a stretch of South Michigan Street, that means there will be just one lane of north and southbound traffic, between Chippewa and the Bypass. Construction will continue through October.
City officials are asking drivers to use extra caution and be patient during this period of construction.
In three phases, the city will be widening and constructing a new center turn lane on South Michigan. Work also includes sidewalks, curbs, and driveway approaches. The city of South Bend not only hopes to improve traffic flow around here, they're also going to be installing a storm sewer or drainage system. South Bend City Engineer, Carl Littrell, says the area is overdue for work. “Recent pressure, increased traffic from Erskine Commons and Erskine Village accentuated the need to make improvements to the intersection,” says Littrell.
Some business owners, like Angelo Demetriou, are worried about business slowing. “Business wise, we’re going to struggle. We don’t know what’s going to happen tomorrow and the rest of the days,” says Demetriou, who owns Angelo’s Family Restaurant, on South Michigan Street.
Meantime, Littrell says the good news is business patrons will still have access to South Michigan’s west side from Main Street. “Most of the businesses are fairly fortunate that they have access to Main Street as well, so you'll find out on road detour signs, directing people northbound to Main Street to access back side of those businesses,” says Littrell.
The total cost of the construction project is three million dollars. $2.3 million is from federal (gas tax) funds. The rest is of the cost is being covered by the city.
The next major project construction project in South Bend will be on Portage Avenue. That is supposed to start this July. The city is still going through the bidding process. The project involves complete closure of Portage from Lathrop to Boland.