Downtown Events Adjust to Broad Street Construction Schedule

Information reprinted with permission of the Courier Times, local newspaper New Castle, Indiana www.thecouriertimes.com

Downtown events adjust to Broad Street construction schedule

Posted: Wednesday, March 8, 2017 6:00 am

Nobody is going to be “cruising Broad” this summer while the state is making much needed repairs to New Castle’s main drag.

That’s not going to stop motorheads, hotrod junkies and fans of the American classic muscle car from getting their fill of car shows and cruise-ins this year.

The New Castle Broad Street Cruise-In committee has a backup plan to keep the popular events alive while the Indiana Department of Transportation (INDOT) is repairing potholes and aged stretches of Ind. 38 that runs through the heart of town.

INDOT will begin pavement replacement and rehabilitation March 22 along Ind. 38, which becomes Broad Street in New Castle. The project is expected to last several months and calls for temporarily closing several intersections, including 15th Street, Main Street and 11th Street, during different phases of construction.

“All the cruise-ins will move forward as planned, but in a different location,” said committee president Jeff Cross. “We’re planning on keeping everything we usually have up on Broad.”

Cross said the event organizers started preparing for the temporary move at the end of last year’s cruise-in season. The cruise-in committee hopes to have the details completely worked out in the next couple weeks.

The New Castle Board of Works approved this year’s current cruise-in schedule in January. The cruise-ins are scheduled to run from 6 to 10 p.m. the first Saturday of each month, April through October. A parade spotlighting a different make of vehicle will take place during each cruise-in.

They have been talking with New Castle planners about having the 2017 cruises around Baker Park. The automobile parades will likely use Main Street and Trojan Lane, Cross said.

The summer cruise-ins are not the only community events that are having to change their plans around the road work.

The Henry County Farmer’s Market has traditionally set up in front of the courthouse on South Main Street during the summer. Jeremiah Priest coordinates the annual event and he expects that vendors will miss a few customers who would have seen them from Broad Street.

“We’re still expecting a great, great turnout this year,” Priest said.

Unrelated to the Broad Street project, the farmer’s market was already working with the City of New Castle to find a new location for their homegrown bazaar. Priest said the new location will be announced after talking with the board of works.

The New Castle-Henry County Chamber of Commerce sponsors a Memorial Day Parade and Festival in New Castle each year. The parade usually begins at 15th and Broad Street.

Chamber executive director Missy Modesitt said the construction plans could put a kink in that plan.

“We will communicate with INDOT and stay up to date with their schedule, and we will work closely with the Department of Public Works on short-term road closures for the parade,” Modesitt said. “We may have to start off from a different place, which will mean that the line-up locations may be different from previous years.”

The Chamber planning committee has just started working on the Memorial Day parade. Modesitt said it is very important that people and organizations wishing to participate in the parade register online at www.nchcchamber.com under the event tab so they can stay up to date on any changes to the parade routes. 

Access to the Art Association of Henry County will remain open from Indiana Avenue, so executive director Manny Mena doesn’t expect the temporary Broad Street intersection closure to change much at the county art studio.

“The (Artistry Annex) might be a different story since it is right in front of the construction site,” Mena said. “It may affect some people who were planning to come by that day, but overall it don’t think it will impact us too negatively.”

The gift shop sees its highest volume of traffic during the winter holidays. Phase 1 of the Broad Street construction is scheduled to be complete over the summer.

Lora Loveless owns LJ’s Quik Thru convenience store at 2323 Broad St. During Phase 2 of the project, side streets around the convenience store may be closed.

“The road needs work. It’s in bad shape,” said Lora Loveless. “But (the construction) is going to hurt businesses.”

LJ’s Quik Thru sees a lot of vehicle traffic through the day as shoppers use their drive-up window service. In February, the shop began offering grocery delivery service to customer’s homes for a small fee.

Loveless hopes that customers will continue to call in grocery orders and rely on deliveries even while the road improvement work keeps them away from Broad Street.

“It’s going to be rough. Let’s hope they stay on schedule,” Loveless said.

New Castle Community School Corporation also does not expect the road improvements to have any significant impact on their ability to shuttle students between home and school.

Assistant Superintendent Bo Pheffer said the city school buses have adapted to several road closures over the past couple of years.

“Those involved who work for the city have done a great job giving us a head’s up so we can be prepared,” Pheffer said. “We do expect to make a few temporary bus stop changes, but our students, parents and drivers have always helped us and we are certain the upcoming road construction period will be no different.”

New Castle emergency responders are planning ways to work around the construction, as well.

City Emergency Medical Services Chief Josh Russell thinks the Broad Street detours could potentially create some delays in response times or make for longer transportation times. Ambulance crews will likely bypass the construction zones by using Garner Street, Russell said.

Russell said INDOT will share information with New Castle EMS any time there are changes to routes to the hospital. The on-duty EMS supervisors are also responsible for going out and investigating any new detours.

All and all, Russell doesn’t expect any significant delays for New Castle ambulance crews.

“My hope is people can look forward a little bit and see the benefits (of the repair work), not just the speed bumps,” Russell said.

New Castle Fire Chief Mark Boatright, Sr. said his crews can respond to any fire call in the city within two minutes. New Castle also has mutual aid agreements with volunteer fire departments in the area if they need additional help.

The city department has three stations positioned in different parts of the community, so a single roadblock shouldn’t be detrimental to overall service.

“It’s going to cause a little inconvenience, but we’ll get wherever we need to go,” Boatright said.

The Courier-Times will update the community about road closures and detours related to the Broad Street roadwork as they are announced. 

The New Castle City Council meets at 6:30 p.m. March 20 in council chambers on the second floor of the municipal building, 227 N. Main St. This special session is to share information about the upcoming Broad Street construction project and will feature representatives from the Indiana Department of Transportation.