By Beth Stauffer

CLICK HERE FOR PHOTOS by Amanda Fendel

This past week, a project many years in the making finally came to fruition when the Maplecrest Road Extension opened to traffic on Tuesday, October 30th, 2012 from Lake Avenue to Adams Center Road at Indiana 930 in New Haven.  The initial ribbon cutting ceremony had to be postponed due to the inclement weather in the area on Tuesday morning; instead, the ribbon cutting ceremony took place under blue skies early on Friday afternoon to a crowd befitting this landmark project in East Allen County.

New Haven Mayor Terry McDonald

While the Maplecrest Extension only officially made its debut this week, it has been a part of Allen County’s local transportation plan for well over 30 years.  Back in 1996, the Commissioners of Allen County ordered a preliminary engineering report be completed on the proposed site from Lake Avenue to Adams Center Road at Indiana 930 in New Haven.  This report was followed by a series of subsequent assessments and analyses to prepare the way for a 1.5 mile stretch of brand new four-lane roadway.

Groundbreaking took place on the Maplecrest Road Extension project in April of 2010 and in the 2 ½ years since then, Primco, Inc. of Fort Wayne has been busy fulfilling the construction contract they were awarded at an approximate cost to date of $31.4 million dollars.  The Engineer’s initial cost estimate for the project was in the neighborhood of $50 million dollars, which is a difference of $18.6 million dollars.

Considering the cost of this project, one might wonder what the projected economic benefits to the Fort Wayne and East Allen County corridor will be and just who exactly is footing the bill?  According to a press release provided at the ribbon cutting ceremony on Friday, back in 2008 the firm RW Armstrong conducted a feasibility analysis which determined that “the construction of the Maplecrest Road Extension alone was expected to have an economic impact of around $86 million dollars for our community—an increase of 79% on the original public investment.”

In addition to these impressive statistics, the project to date has provided “over 120,000 labor hours working on the Maplecrest Extension.”   This roughly translates into over $2.5 million dollars in salaries paid to area workers, a portion of which New Haven resident Ed Beitler received for his work constructing the bridges that span the Norfolk- Southern Railroad tracks and the Maumee River.

In the future, the RW Armstrong feasibility study also predicted that “total economic output from post-construction private investment is projected to exceed $715 million dollars over an 11 year period, adding $236 million dollars in employee compensation and support more than 7,800 jobs in the Allen County economy.”

The second question consisting of ‘Just who is paying for this project?’ was also addressed by the press release provided at the ribbon cutting ceremony on Friday.  $11 million dollars in federal funding was earmarked for the Maplecrest Extension Project during former Congressional Representative Mark Souder’s term as a part of a highway authorization bill.  New Haven and Fort Wayne both have pledged $4.2 million dollars to the project in addition to $533,000 pledged from the Norfolk-Southern Railroad.  Other funding sources include $9 million in County Major Bridge Funds and a $25 million dollar bond approved by the Fort Wayne City Council.

One might expect when talking about a major, multi-million dollar project to receive a mixed bag of positive and negative comments from the general public, but that does not appear to be the case with the Maplecrest Road Extension project.  Everyone that I have spoken with about the project has been overwhelmingly positive, and for the most part offered different perspectives about why this is such a great addition to East Allen County.

Gary Marquardt, the Assistant Fire Chief at New Haven Adams Township Fire Station #2 on Paulding Road, envisions the Maplecrest Road Extension having “great benefit for our community.”  Marquardt added,  “Fire and emergency services will now have access to both sides of the river and if a train is blocking the tracks we’ll still be able to get to previously inaccessible areas like Riverhaven, North Landin Road and North River Road.  This has been a long time coming.”

Marquardt’s wife, Ann, a local realtor, is also a fan of the Maplecrest Extension.  “My commute is almost 2 miles shorter now,” Ann told me with a laugh.  She added, “I also think it’s really going to open up that whole corridor of Fort Wayne into New Haven for growth.  It’s going to be a good opportunity for businesses to grow in New Haven and for new subdivisions in the Adams Center corridor and off of 469.”

Stacy Downing, the Pastor of Hoagland United Methodist Church, said of the project, “The Maplecrest Extension has been a great gift to our family. It connects our new community (New Haven) with our old neighborhood (Georgetown), cutting significant travel time to see old friends, doctors, dentists and other favorite service providers! Plus, our toddler gets to cross a river and railroad tracks all on ‘one’ bridge!”

Barb Johnson, a music teacher at Concordia Lutheran School off of Lake Avenue and the Choir Director and Organist at Martini Lutheran in New Haven, said “I drove over it for the first time today and I love it.  I can be sure I won’t get caught by trains and I don’t have to go around on Coliseum. It is awesome!  It opens a lot of doors for many businesses.  It will also help the people of Parrott Road.”

Janet Hayward, a teacher at Central Lutheran School in New Haven, also loves the new Maplecrest Extension.  Of the new roadway she said, “I love it! It will be great for New Haven businesses and it opens the door for more grocery shopping for the New Haven residents. I would imagine property values will come up for the people off of Parrott Road. They have direct access to Maplecrest now.”

Adam Gaddy, who lives off of East State Street and travels to New Haven regularly to visit family and to take his daughter, Madelyn, to her childcare provider’s house, had just a few words to say about the Maplecrest Road Extension project, but perhaps he said it best of all when he said, “It’s amazing; and, extremely convenient.”

 

 

POSTED: 11/03/12 at 7:07 am. FILED UNDER: Business, News