Back to school season is here and while some of our Michiana schools have already begun classes, most Indiana schools will be back by end of this week. For the South Bend area, Notre Dame students are returning to their housing and classes begin next week for them and those at Indiana University South Bend. Coming to an end for students are the days of wondering what to do or simply choosing between reruns of Victorious and iCarly. In my house, my children are looking forward to what they will wear for the first day of school and seeing what friends they will share classes while I am looking forward to the return of their routine.
The true sadness that the start of school brings is that it marks the end of the summer season. After the winter of 2013/14, I get an uneasy feeling in the pit of my stomach just thinking about the looming start of winter snow and darkness. Rather than think of that, I find some positive things to think about…
Traffic construction will start to wind down for the winter and the orange barrels and cones will start to disappear. One of the most exciting events is that INDOT will open the stretch of US 31 from South Bend to Plymouth this week. North/south travelers will rejoice as this stretch of highway will bypass two of the largest slowdowns along that drive, LaPaz and Lakeville. I am not a daily commuter to Indianapolis, though this fall soccer season expects to have at least 5 trips to Indianapolis so I look forward to easing the drive and decreasing the duration of such trips. I would like to take this moment to remind all drivers to stay in the right lane during travel except to pass!
The stretch of Fir Rd between SR23 and Cleveland Rd was recently completed, now with 4 lanes and a turn lane and lights at the new intersection of the Fir Rd Capital Connecter. That connection to Capital Rd is due to be completed this season allowing travelers from the Capital Toll Rd exit to more quickly access the Costco and other stores in the University Park Mall shopping area. The connecter will also allow for future development along that corridor.
The round-a-bout at Gumwood and Brick Rd is also near completion. Bricks have been laid in the center of the turn, a layer of asphalt is down, curbs have been installed and soon traffic will be moving nearly nonstop through the intersection. This intersection represents the last moments of hundreds of drivers’ commute home and will relieve the tension that results from sitting at a 30 plus car line up at a four-way stop watching drivers deliberate with whose turn it is. The southern portion of Gumwood is still in the beginning stages of its widening project. The project will relieve congestion at the northern side of the intersection with Cleveland Rd along Heritage Square and Toscana Park.
Jefferson Blvd in the East Bank Village of downtown South Bend is still under construction but will result in a much improved stretch of the road with clear lanes, sidewalks, trees and parking for businesses in the area. Jefferson Blvd is one of the major commuter arteries into downtown, especially for employees of Crowe Horwath and Press Ganey, two of the larger employers in the city. Still to come for downtown is the work needed to convert existing one-way traffic to two-way streets, which begins with the conversions of Lafayette and William St.
Of course the one other thing that we can always look forward to when school goes back is the beginning of the college and pro football seasons. The kick off to the Fighting Irish season is less than 2 weeks away and we are all braced with the anticipation of another season of hopes and tailgates! Will a new field turf be the stage for Brian Kelly’s team to shine upon? Let’s hope.