WESTFIELD, Ind. (WISH) — Almost 20,000 vehicles come through downtown Westfield every day, and the congestion can be exhausting. The city has a plan to ease the congestion, but that plan has hit a road block.
The lunch-hour traffic through downtown Westfield is what people have come to expect: long waits at traffic lights and a slow, irritating drive through downtown.
“It is not something we absolutely desire, to have a state road running through the heart of our city, but it’s fact,” Westfield Mayor Andy Cook said.
The city of Westfield and the Indiana Department of Transportation announced a deal in 2018 to improve the road with the two sides each paying half of the $15 million cost.
The city council approved the agreement. The city announced the route in December. Now, the project may come to a stop.
“Now city council is proposing we step out of the project, that is, breach our contract with INDOT,” Cook said.
The city has spent $1.5 million already, and that could be money thrown out the window. Despite years of discussion, there is still no agreement on how wide the road will be.
One thing that has been decided is the historical buildings on the north side of the street will remain untouched. The extra lanes and sidewalks this project calls for will come from land purchased on the south side of the street.
Construction was scheduled for next summer. Cook said this project is vital to the city’s future.
“The argument is, ‘Well, we want economic development in our downtown.’ Well, if you look at our downtown, it is not really a thing of beauty today and there has been very little, very little interest in developing downtown,” Cook said.
The city is putting money into this project because it gives them a voice in how the project will look; the city wants a walkable and attractive downtown. Plus, the road will accommodate emergency traffic.
“We are building east, we are building west, we are having a hard time getting our emergency vehicles through the current corridor,” Cook said.
Cook said if the city is forced out of the project, INDOT will eventually widen the road and the city will have to live with the state’s design.