First phase of Smart Streets project to cost SB $7 million - Fox 28: South Bend, Elkhart IN News, Weather, Sports

First phase of Smart Streets project to cost SB $7 million

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South Bend's Mayor's office is getting an idea of just how much it would cost to convert one-way streets to two-way, downtown.

You'll remember last month, FOX28 got a closer look at what the project would actually entail.

South Bend's Director of Community investment, Scott Ford, says phase one of the Smart Streets plan would convert Lafayette Street from one-way to two-way from Western to Marion.

William would also be converted from Western to Washington.

"Completing them with some re-striping, some new signals. It's also an opportunity to remove the signals from a number of intersections and turn those back to stop signs," says Ford.

But it's not just converting one-way streets. The plan also calls for some reworking of the Michigan-Bartlett Streets intersection, which could become a roundabout.

It also includes some drainage improvements and street-scaping to Jefferson Street from Niles to St. Pete.

"Create a more pedestrian-friendly atmosphere that's good for business, good for retail, good for office occupancy," says Ford.

Ford says about $4.5 million will come from the Major Moves fund, which has funds from the lease of the toll road.

$2-$2.5 million would come from the TIF. That totals about $7 Ford says in a modest scenario, it's an investment that will pay itself off in fewer than 11 years.

Common Council member Tim Scott is on board with that.

He says he's been hit by drivers going the wrong direction on one-ways.

He also says it's difficult for drivers to circle-back to businesses once they pass by.

"I think what we've got to do is give our city, businesses, residents, anybody coming to town, the best advantage they can. Especially with the businesses and I think two-way streets would help that," says Scott.

Not everyone on the Council is sold. President Derek Dieter says he's just not convinced the changes will pay out.

"If I can be shown that suddenly someone will purchase this lot or purchase this home because we have two-way streets, that's what I'd like to see and I haven't seen anything like that," says Dieter.

Dieter says the money may be better spent elsewhere, like on curbs and sidewalks for neighborhoods that need them.

The Common Council will have to approve the funding for the plan in its budget that members will pass later this month.

Councilmembers urge South Bend residents to come out and voice their opinions about the project.

They can do that at any council meeting. You can find meeting dates, here.

If the Council gives approval, work would start next spring.

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