Officials break ground on Benham Avenue Project

Published: May. 27, 2020 at 4:21 PM EDT
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The southern gateway to downtown Elkhart is in line for a $2.7 million makeover.

“I lived and was raised on Benham Avenue. I walked Benham Avenue in order to get to my middle school,” said Elkhart Mayor Rob Roberson.

“So this stretch to widen the sidewalks is something that I know very personally.”

Mayor Roberson and others this morning held groundbreaking ceremonies to mark the start of a project to rebuild a seven block stretch of Benham Avenue between Indiana Avenue and Lusher.

The corridor has been redesigned to better protect students at three schools located in the area.

“New streets will have wider sidewalks, the sidewalks will be eight feet wide and they’ll be designed to accommodate both pedestrians and bicycles.” Elkhart City Right of Way Engineer Jeff Schaffer also said that the new design includes a tree lawn to put more distance between vehicles and pedestrians. 107 new street lights will also be installed along what some call the southern gateway into downtown Elkhart.

“Because it leads to a railroad underpass it has kind of become the gateway to downtown for everyone on the south side and so the idea of rebuilding it, making it look a little nicer, making it safer, greening it up also makes that gateway to downtown look better,” said Schaffer.

The project will be done in two phases so that work closest to the schools can be done first. “So should school start on time in the fall our goal is to have Wolf Avenue (bear Roosevelt School) done and back open so the kids can cross it,” explained Schaffer.

It is estimated that up to 15,000 vehicles a year travel on Benham.