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Clinton Street closure to last 6 months

FORT WAYNE -- Commuters into downtown Fort Wayne should expect some major changes next week.

Clinton Street will close just south of State Boulevard beginning Wednesday evening for the start of a six-month project.

Officials from the Indiana Department of Transportation and city of Fort Wayne on Thursday announced the road closure and the detours available for drivers.

Shan Gunawardena, city traffic engineer, said a local detour has been designated to allow cars to navigate around the closure without being forced to drive miles out of their way. He also noted that signs will be placed alerting drivers of several alternative routes downtown.

"Downtown Fort Wayne is going to be open for business as usual," he said.

The $2.1 million project will soften the curves of Clinton while also raising the bridge over Spy Run Creek nearly 8 feet to prevent flooding. Primco of Fort Wayne was awarded the contract.

The bridge work required the state to close Clinton at State Boulevard, and the official detour will take drivers east and south on Coliseum Boulevard to go west on Washington Boulevard back to Clinton downtown.

Rich Davis, president of the Downtown Improvement District, said he and others worked months to try to find a solution that would make it easier for travelers to reach downtown. He credited Gunawardena for finding such a solution.

The local detour will direct southbound drivers to turn east on State Boulevard and then south on Spy Run Avenue. Spy Run, currently a one-way northbound street, will be converted to have one southbound lane and two northbound lanes from State to Elizabeth Street. Through traffic will be directed to go west on Elizabeth before returning to southbound Clinton. Elizabeth will be converted to a one-way westbound street during the detour. The speed limit will be 30 mph through the local detour, and heavy truck traffic will be prohibited, Gunawardena said.

The street carries more than 22,000 vehicles south toward downtown each day, so even with the detour, drivers are encouraged to find alternative routes. Gunawardena highlighted Wells Street, Sherman Boulevard and Tennessee Avenue as possible alternatives. Drivers along Interstate 69 will be directed to use Illinois Road or Jefferson Boulevard to access downtown.

The start of this project comes as the state is completing the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Bridge over the St. Marys River just south of the Spy Run Creek. State officials said the original hope was to coordinate the two Clinton Street projects, but environmental and historical studies of the north bridge delayed that work longer than expected.

The Spy Run project is supposed to be completed by October.