No pain, no gain with Ind. 32 project, Cook says at chamber luncheon

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The plan between the City of Westfield and the Indiana Dept. of Transportation to widen Ind. State Road 32 was sealed this fall.

Yet, it will take time, Westfield Mayor Andy Cook cautioned.

“It is not an overnight project,” Cook said at a Westfield Chamber of Commerce luncheon Nov. 15 at The Bridgewater Club in Westfield. “Like (U.S.) 31, will it be painful? Yes, it will. Now we look at 31 and we hardly remember that pain. Look what that has done for our city. There would be no Grand Park if there wasn’t a 31 freeway.”

The agreement is a 50/50 split for $15 million to widen Ind. 32 from Poplar Street to East Street, which Cook calls a critical half-mile. The cost includes right-of-way acquisition, construction and construction management.

“The part I’m most excited about is that although it’s their property, our engineering and (Director) Jeremy (Lollar) and his Public Works Dept. will manage the project along with INDOT,” Cook said.

Cook said by having its public works department working with INDOT, the city can have much more impact on the maintenance of traffic and how to deal with merchants downtown.

“You read all the time how businesses are affected by construction,” he said.

Cook said Structurepoint, which did the original schematic design, will lead the development during the next six to eight years.

Cook said there are two schematic plans, the Ind. 32 piece and Jersey Street extension piece.

Cook said the task is how to plan for a four-lane Ind. 32 piece to be as friendly as it can be.

“We need to turn this challenge into an asset and there are several ways we can work at doing this,” Cook said.

Right now, Cook said the planning is assessing the needs of downtown. He said the survey won’t be complete until the end of 2019. 

“How does it affect our city? What archaeological and historical items need to be protected?” Cook said. “All of this takes places over the next two years.”

In 2020, Structurepoint and Westfield Dept. of Public Works will propose what needs to happen in downtown Westfield.

“At that time, we’ll have rousing public discussions on which one of these (plans) look best, what is going to be effective,” Cook said. “Then, after we select what it will be, then we have a whole other year on a specific design on that plan.”

In 2022, construction would likely begin and probably be completed in the summer of 2024.

The Jersey Street extension will begin tentatively with preliminary engineering in 2019, followed by construction in December 2020 and completion by the summer of 2021.

“We’ll have hearings and then we’ll decide what is the best route to take this piece to alleviate traffic,” Cook said. “That piece is not only badly needed to serve the people in the southeast quadrant, but to give better access east and west.”

INDOT originally had a plan to reconstruct Ind. 32 from Westfield to Noblesville in 2028, but there were no plans to add lanes.

Cook said he hopes everyone will see the value in the Ind. 32 decision.

“It’s creating a unique destination, it is encouraging small business, unique businesses to utilize what we have,” Cook said. “Historical-wise, we are going to honor everything we can. We also want our people to recognize we are truly making history now.”


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