Elkhart approves funds for Prairie Street overpass project
Posted: 02/13/2013 at 1:30 pm
By: Dan Spalding
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A sports car travels south over the railroad tracks on Prairie Street just south of Middlebury Street Wednesday, November 10, 2010. The city is still looking to raise money to add to the $500,000 Department of Transportation grant announced by U.S. Rep Joe Donnelly during a press conference with Mayor Dick Moore. The city has long planned to build an overpass at this crossing. (Truth Photo By Jennifer Shephard) ¬ ¬ ¬ ¬
An artist rendering of the proposed Prairie Street Overpass project in Elkhart. (Truth Photo By Jennifer Shephard) ¬ ¬ ¬ ¬
The vote came after a presentation by Mayor Dick Moore and city engineer Mike Machlan on the benefits the overpass would provide.
The $500,000 will come from the downtown tax increment finance fund and is one of several sources city officials are seeking to use to fulfill the city’s $3.2 million local share needed for the $20 million project.
Moore expressed a sense of urgency about securing the money, telling board members that the city needs to line up its share of money by this summer or face the possible loss of federal support.
The federal government has pledged more than $16 million for the project.
Moore unveiled his plan for securing local funding last week. Moore intends to borrow $1.8 million from Major Moves and repay it with TIF revenues and the city’s utility water fund.
City council is expected to consider approving the use of Major Moves Construction Funds in the next few weeks.
In addition to the benefits of improved traffic flow and safety, Machlan told the board that the large amount of infrastructure improvements that will coincide with the project along South Main Street and Prairie Street presents a great opportunity for the city.
Utility improvements involving replacement of water mains and sewer lines and could benefit the city for the next 100 years, Machlan told the board.
Another benefit Moore pointed out was that the overpass will improve access for the police department and a fire station, which are located north of the railroad tracks.
Overpass construction is expected to begin in the spring of 2014. The city is currently working to acquire properties needed for the project.