Drivers who use Indiana Avenue don’t have to slalom through orange cones any longer.
City officials and a few neighbors, however, are still haggling over a price for land taken to widen the North Side arterial.
Construction crews will clear out by week’s end, and have already finished paving the section of Indiana between Columbus and Standard streets. New signal lights will be added later this month.
The project, which began in July, widened Indiana to four lanes. The primary reason was to add new north and south turn lanes to Indiana at Hamilton.
Dennis Beringer, the city’s real estate projects manager, said the overhaul was needed because cars would continually block traffic while trying to turn.
The new signal lights will comply with new state impact specifications, Beringer said. They will also require less maintenance than the current lights.
Before any of the work could begin, the city had to purchase several feet of property from 22 landowners.
When the project was announced two years ago, a few area residents protested. Some were against the idea of widening Indiana at all, others thought they were not being offered enough money for their land.
The city is still negotiating price with seven other property owners. Four are homeowners; the others run businesses there.
The holdouts still aren’t happy with the amount of money the city has offered them.
“It was an insult,” said Ed Trantum, who owns a house along Indiana and is still holding out for more for the 6 foot-by-50 foot piece of land the city paved over. “They might as well have offered us nothing.”
Trantum said the city’s offers have ranged from $600 to $800.
It’s common for the city to buy pieces of property so that busy streets can be improved, Beringer said.
“(The neighbors) do live on an arterial street, which is subject to widening.”
If the city and property owners can’t reach an agreement, the chunks of land that are now parts of Indiana will be considered condemned. When that happens, a court determines what price the city will pay for a piece of land.
Beringer said that’s only a last resort.
“We would rather not do that.”