A $4.6 million project to widen Maplecrest Road between State Boulevard and Lake Avenue is set to get under way this fall, according to designs filed by Fort Wayne traffic engineers.
The city invited members of the public this week to review the plans, which call for Maplecrest to be widened to four lanes – with an additional turn lane at some points – to accommodate more traffic as part of the road's $30 million extension from Lake south to Indiana 930 in New Haven.
Traffic planners expect the extension of Maplecrest, which is scheduled to open by the end of 2012, to bring a sharp increase in traffic along the north-south thoroughfare over the next two decades. According to traffic estimates, about 12,600 cars travel Maplecrest daily, with that figure expected to reach nearly 20,000 by 2032.
The widening project's estimated $4.6 million cost would exceed earlier figures by more than $1 million. The cost was estimated at $3 million in 2008 and $3.5 million more recently. City officials were not available Wednesday for an explanation of the cost increase.
Both local and federal funds would go toward the work, according to the design plans. The designs would be available in the city's traffic engineering department at Citizens Square, 200 E. Berry St., with a Sept. 5 deadline for people to submit comments.
Although the widening project initially drew concern from nearby homeowners, city officials have helped quiet most of their fears, said City Councilman Tom Smith, R-1st, who represents much of Fort Wayne's east side.
“The city has stayed in very close touch with people, and I have not heard any complaints,” said Smith, who had opposed the Maplecrest extension because of its possible impact on homes.
Overall, the city will need to acquire about 1 acre of residential property along the 1.5-mile stretch of Maplecrest, but no residents will be required to leave their homes, according to the plans. The project would have a direct impact on about 20 properties, including businesses.
"I'll be happy when they get it done," said Steve Ludlow, who lives near the intersection of Maplecrest and Monarch Drive, which will get a new traffic signal as part of the project.
"We need a wider street, and the stop light will be nice," Ludlow said.
Smith said he thought city officials had done a good job reaching out to homeowners through a series of public meetings. According to the design plans, at least one meeting last summer drew more than 80 people.
The plans also include wheelchair-accessible ramps, decorative street lights, a landscaped median and 8-foot trails for walking and cycling on either side of Maplecrest.