WARSAW — One of the most cratered roads in Warsaw — the privately maintained eastern half of Commerce Drive — is about to be reconstructed, a move that would pave the way for future city maintenance.
The rough portion is the eastern part of Commerce Drive that runs parallel to US 30 from the Marathon gas station to McDonald’s and serves shoppers visiting Big R, Staples, McDonald’s, Richards restaurant and a handful of other stores in Woodland Plaza.
While the road has been a challenge for motorists for years, it’s also been a sore spot for city officials who have no control of the road since it is privately maintained, but often hear complaints from folks who assume the city can fix it.
The situation could change soon, though.
A spokesman for Phend & Brown confirmed Monday that they have been hired by the owner, US Management of Warsaw, to reconstruct the road. Construction could begin this week.
The project will result in new curbs, gutters and pavement, said Brent Lamb, project manager for the Milford-based Phend & Brown.
Reconstruction would then open the door for the city to consider taking over maintenance responsibilities of the road.
Jeff Beeler, the city’s public works superintendent, said city officials met with the representatives of the property about three or four years ago to let them know what the standards are in case they wanted to reconstruct it and then seek to have the city maintain it in the future.
The city of Warsaw announced on its Facebook page a week ago that Commerce Drive is scheduled for repairs, but it did not announce the extent of repairs or its willingness to take over maintenance. The post attracted more than 138 messages, many of which blamed the city and even the stores for the road condition. The city responded to many of the posts, trying to clarify the issue.
In one comment, the city responded with a post that said, “If the opportunity presents itself to take over that road, the city very likely would do so.”
Beeler said he was under the impression the owners had hired Phend & Brown to reconstruct the road last fall, but plans were delayed because of weather.
Mayor Joe Thallamer acknowledged the city has been “taking a lot of heat” from residents who think the road is the city’s responsibility, noting, “The (road) failures have become very apparent in the last four or five years.”
Thallemer said there has been a coordinated effort by the stores to encourage the owners to reconstruct the road in hopes the city would consider taking over the road.
While the reconstruction project has nothing to do with the city, city officials will be watching the work closely.
“We will be out there inspecting it as the project goes on to make sure it meets our standards” so the city can be ready in case the owner seeks to hand over maintenance responsibilities to the city, Beeler said.
After construction is complete, the owners could ask the city about future maintenance responsibilities.
“And then the board of works can decide whether or not they want to accept that into city maintenance,” Beeler said.
Lamb said the construction work will take three to four weeks to complete, but that depends on weather conditions.
The road will remain open, but parts of it will be blocked off. Lamb said motorists will still be able to access all of the stores during the work.
He said they plan to begin work on the western end of the road, meaning access to the stores would come through the access road near McDonald’s.
Control of the roadway seems to be a shared arrangement, according to Beacon, a mapping tool available on the city website. US Management of Warsaw LLC, is listed as owning the western half of Woodland Plaza and the western half of Commerce Drive as well as the western and eastern access roads that connect with US 30. Store Master Funding XV LLC, is listed by Beacon as the owner of the Big R store and a short segment of Commerce Drive between the two portions owned by US Management of Warsaw.
Lamb said they are working with US Management of Warsaw, which owns a majority of the shopping complex.