ELKHART — One word for those who travel S.R. 19 on the west side of the city: Relief.
The lane restrictions are gone along the roadway, also known as Nappanee Street, and the upgrade of the section from Lusher Avenue north to the St. Joseph River is largely complete. Now, instead of just one travel lane in each direction there are two with a new center turn lane in the section north of Franklin Street.
What’s more, you can once again make left-hand turns onto Franklin Street, temporarily prohibited to accommodate construction.
And Indiana Avenue off the east side of S.R. 19, closed so the crossing could be improved, is once again open.
“It’s flowing. No more restrictions,” said Mary Foster, spokeswoman for the Indiana Department of Transportation, which is overseeing the project.
Crews from Rieth-Riley Construction, responsible for the work, had been working since last spring on the S.R. 19 section south of the St. Joseph River, a busy commercial thoroughfare, resulting in slow-moving traffic and frequent snarls. Business operators said the work hampered sales.
The section south to Franklin Street was completed and opened on Nov. 30, though, according to Foster. And the shorter segment south of Franklin Street to Lusher Avenue — under the Norfolk Southern Railroad line — opened to four lanes of traffic on Thursday, Dec. 5.
S.R. 19 in the construction zone had been a four-lane roadway, two travel lanes in each direction. To improve traffic flow and reduce the likelihood of rear-end mishaps, the $14.84 million construction plans called for the addition of a center turn-lane along with improvements to intersecting streets and other upgrades.
Ahead of the work this year, Rieth-Riley crews similarly widened S.R. 19 north of the St. Joseph River to Beardsley Avenue, part of the same project. Starting the spring of 2014, crews will upgrade the east side of S.R. 19 from Franklin Street south to Lusher Avenue, resulting once again in one-lane of travel in each direction in that segment until completed.
Rieth-Riley worked extra hours so S.R. 19 could be re-opened yet this year, according to INDOT.
Because the lane restrictions have been lifted, the Michiana Area Council of Governments, or MACOG, announced the detour on the Interurban Trolley’s Green Line West line will be lifted. Trolleys will resume traveling the regular route starting Monday, Dec. 9.
Follow reporter Tim Vandenack on Twitter at @timvandenack.