ELKHART — An uncommonly robust road construction season will start soon in the city of Elkhart.
Normally, city engineers oversee one big project and a handful of smaller ones during the summer construction season, but this year Elkhart officials will have their hands full with four large projects and plenty of smaller ones.
While the public works improvements will cause inconveniences for motorists and some businesses, the rewards will eventually include a new railroad overpass through the heart of the city, improved water pressure for numerous neighborhoods and less sewage entering nearby waterways.
Three projects will continue for 18 months while the biggest – the Prairie Street overpass – is expected to continue for two years.
Two of the four biggest will involve assorted street closings, likely causing some consternation for motorists.
The combined improvements represent one of the biggest endeavors in recent history. About five years ago, when the city received stimulus money for construction projects, it spent nearly $15 million on construction. The upcoming work will be almost twice as expensive.
“I would say this is the biggest construction season since I’ve been working for the city,” said city engineer Mike Machlan.
In light of the heavy workload, Machlan said the city has relied more on consultants than in previous years.
Another factor that should bode well: City engineering staff in recent years have refined the way they approach projects and improved efficiencies, Machlan said.
The $18 million overpass project includes several phases. Numerous buildings acquired by the city will soon be demolished. Several blocks of South Main Street will close from about May to December to accommodate sewer improvements. Prairie Street will close for about 18 months beginning in June.
That project will continue until midway through 2016.
The $23 million downtown sewer project -- involving, among other things, an underground tank that can hold 1.1 million gallons of sewage -- was moved up on the calendar after city officials learned they could access money through the state at a very low interest rate, Machlan said.
The project also includes sewer work and road improvements.
The first phase starts after the July 4 weekend and will involve the closure of Lexington east of Main Street for a month. Waterfall Drive will also be closed for part of the 18-month project, but the most bothersome closure will involve the heavily traveled Jackson Boulevard. Officials are unsure when that will begin.
Another large sewer project will begin in the fall along Lusher Avenue near the Elkhart Environmental Center and will continue for 18 months.
Combined sewer overflow projects
■ CSO 33: Construction will end in the spring after paving part of Middlebury Street.
■ CSO 6/7: The downtown project will begin after July and continue for 18 months.
■ CSO 31: Sewage tank on Lusher Avenue near the Elkhart Environmental Center. Begins in the fall and continues for 18 months.
■ Wastewater Treatment Plant expansion: Begins after July 4 and continues for 18 months.
■ Morehouse Avenue between Carlton and Lusher. Begins in May and continues for 60 days.
■ Dorsey Avenue and Lexington Avenue, along Rainbow Bend to West Boulevard, south across the St. Joseph River to Edgewater and Okema to Pennsylvania and ending at Jones. Begins in May and continues for 120 days.
■ Simonton Street between Baldwin and Columbia. Begins in April and continues for 30 days.
■ Marshall Avenue between Neff and Calumet. Begins in the fall and continues for 60 days.
■ Greenleaf Boulevard between Holly and Greenleaf. Begins in the fall and continues for 90 days.
■ Leininger Avenue from Nappanee to Oakland. Begins in the fall and continues for 60 days.
■ Arlington Road from Cassopolis to Johnson. Begins in the fall and continues for 60 days.
■ Okema Street from Indiana to Illinois. Begins in May and continues for 30 days.
■ Bristol Street and C.R. 15. Begins in the fall and continues for 120 days.
■ Lexington Park Drive. Begins in the fall and continues for 30 days.
■ Eighth Street and Mason Street. Already started and continues for 90 days.
■ Winding Waters Lane. Begins in the fall and continues for 90 days.
■ Decio Drive and Ada Drive. Starts in April and continues for 90 days.
■ North Main Wellfield Creek Crossing. Begins in the fall and continues for 180 days.
■ Roys Avenue between Lusher and Hubbard. Begins in the fall and continues for 90 days.
■ Eighth Street and Mason Street. Already started; will take 90 days.
■ Kelsey Avenue and South Main Street. Begins in April and continues for 30 days.
■ Prairie Street and South Main Street. Begins in May and continues for two years.