The final stage of the Lake Street storm sewer replacement project will continue after the Gary Common Council approved the expenditure of approximately $6.25 million in American Rescue Plan Act funds for the work.
The Gary Stormwater Management District has asked the city to provide the funds for the work that will replace the Lake Street sewer from Third Avenue to the Lake Street beach, including a sanitary penstock attached to the Lake Street bridge over the lagoon.
GSWMD has completed the first phase of the project in partnership with the Northwest Indiana Redevelopment Authority, but does not have the funds to complete the final phase of work.
Dan Vicari, chair of the GSWMD, said it may be possible to recoup funds through tax increase funds if the Regional Development Authority creates a transit-focused development district, a decision which is expected to take place at its August 11 meeting. would be included within the boundaries of the development district.
Should repayment opportunities arise, all recovered funds would be returned to the ARPA fund and would be available again.
The project will provide benefits in addition to stormwater management, including new sidewalks and a bike path, pedestrian-friendly intersection crossings, better street lighting, parallel parking spaces, and new landscaping.
Vicari said the work will be done at the same time as other work in the area is underway, including work by the National Park Service to demolish the old pedestrian bridge and the Lake County Board of Commissioners, who will rehabilitate the bridge. in arch of the Grand Calumet river. .
Council President William Godwin, D-1er, said he fully supports the project.
“Not just because it’s in the First District, but because it’s in the City of Gary. I think we all know that Lake Street Beach and Marquette Park are all huge revenue generators that benefit everyone. the city,” Godwin said. Lake Michigan is the city’s No. 1 tourist attraction, he said.
Councilman Ron Brewer, D-At Large, said the project was good for the city and he was happy to see it was going to be completed.
“So many times people in our town hear us talk about plans and never see the finished plans,” Brewer said. “It will help all of us enjoy our lakefront within the city.”
Vicari said construction could be done as early as midsummer if work begins in the fall or later in the year if work begins in the spring. In both directions, work is expected to be completed in 2023. Traffic on Lake Street will remain open in both directions during construction. While the project is challenging, it won’t be as difficult for local businesses as previous phases, Vicari said.
Now that funding has been approved, work can begin on an acceptable plan and schedule. Public input will be solicited.
Godwin urged construction to begin as soon as possible so it could take place as much out of season as possible. He also said the city needs to review parking and beach access fees before next season.