GOSHEN — Work on Monroe Street is nearing completion and the street may be reopened by Christmas according to the Elkhart County highway project engineer.
Roadwork on Monroe has been a joint venture of sorts, with Elkhart County doing work on the Monroe Street bridge and the city of Goshen handling the Monroe Street Trail.
Between the bridge and trail, the project sports a price tag of about $1.3 million.
Eighty percent of the funding for the project comes from federal transportation enhancement funds, while the city and county split the remaining 20 percent of the costs.
The bridge portion of the project is the reason Monroe Street has been closed between Logan Street and Blackport Drive since August.
Tom Rushlow, the county’s project engineer, said work on the bridge was delayed early on by utility companies that needed to relocate their lines.
“We’re at the mercy of the utility companies,” Rushlow said, adding that the companies didn’t begin moving their lines until the county wanted to begin working on the bridge.
On top of that, Rushlow said that a gas main was relocated to the wrong area and then had to be relocated a second time so that it was not in the contractor’s way.
The delays caused the project’s completion date to be pushed back from Dec. 6 to Jan. 3. Rushlow said the county still hopes to have Monroe Street reopened before the end of the year, however.
There are no guarantees they will hit that target, though, since construction work at this time of year depends largely on the cooperation of the weather.
Still, Rushlow said the county expects to have the most substantial work done by Christmas, with lesser aspects of the project to be completed soon after.
As for the Monroe Street Trail, the project could be headed for a suspension with the weather turning colder and snow on the way.
Goshen City Engineer Mary Cripe said the city and contractor are currently with the Indiana Department of Transportation to end construction for the winter with an anticipated restart on April 1.
Cripe estimated that the trail is about 40 percent complete, but said if the suspension is granted the project would likely be completed sometime in mid-May.
Whatever the completion day, Cripe assured the trail will be ready for Elkhart County 4-H Fair patrons, which is the major reason behind the project.
The path is being touted as a safer, more efficient way for fair patrons to walk or bike to the grounds.
The trail will run from Goshen High School to the entrance of the fairgrounds, running along the north side of the street until Blackport Drive, where it will cross to the south until it reaches the grounds.
Cripe said that if the suspension of construction is granted, Monroe Street should not be closed again when work on the path begins again.
The only potential closings that could come up would be temporary shutdowns on Blackport Drive and Logan Street, though Cripe said some planning is still needed before making that determination.