The concrete has been poured and appears plenty hard.
Striping has yet to be done on the new, eastern half of S.R. 19 on the west side of Elkhart, though, and it’s still closed to traffic. So don’t try to drive on it just yet.
Patience, though — construction on the busy commercial roadway, also known as Nappanee Street, edges closer and closer to completion and should fully open to traffic, finally, next month, according to Indiana Department of Transportation spokeswoman Mary Foster.
The focus of work since last spring has been the section of S.R. 19 from the St. Joseph River south to Lusher Avenue. Construction means traffic has been winnowed from two lanes in each direction to just one, causing frequent back-ups and snarls. Work at the Indiana Avenue crossing, meanwhile, has been a headache at times for businesses there.
But the expected re-opening sometime in December, weather permitting, means traffic will once again expand to two lanes each way with a new center turn lane for left-hand maneuvers. Indiana Avenue, now closed on the east side of S.R. 19 for work there, should re-open as well.
The $14.84 million S.R. 19 plans call for the widening of the roadway from Lusher Avenue all the way to Beardsley Avenue with the addition of the center turn lane along much of the stretch. The section north of the St. Joseph River to Beardsley Avenue was widened and completed last year.
WORK REMAINS, FRANKLIN TO LUSHER
The reopening, presuming it pans out, doesn’t mean the S.R. 19 work is over. Still to be upgraded will be the S.R. 19 section from Franklin Avenue south to Lusher Avenue, where the underpass under the Norfolk Southern Railroad rail line is located.
Temporary pavement will be placed on an unfinished section of the eastern half of S.R. 19, allowing two lanes of traffic flow in each direction between Franklin and Lusher through the winter, while work is suspended. But the final upgrade on the Franklin-Lusher stretch is not set to be completed until next year, tentatively finishing up in June, according to Foster.
“Although the entire roadway was not completed this year, as the contractor had hoped to do, this contract is still ahead of schedule,” Foster said in an e-mail. The work had originally been slated to be complete next August, but should be done in June.
Follow reporter Tim Vandenack on Twitter at @timvandenack.