Light Street lane closings to drag on
The repaving work that has been bedeviling downtown commuters who regularly use Light Street is expected to drag on longer than previously announced.
Kathy Chopper, a spokeswoman for the city Department of Transportation, said the multiple lane closings that have squeezed the travel lanes on northbound Light down to two will likely continue through mid-October.
Construction work on southbound Light at Pratt Street, which is expected to shift to the center lanes Wednesday at 5:30 a.m., is expected to take another two weeks, Chopper said.
The road work on Light Street, part of the preparations for the downtown Grand Prix race set for Labor Day next year, has backed up morning commuters from Interstate 95 and from Federal Hill and has caused similar congestion in the evenings. City officials have urged downtown commuters to use alternate routes, such as Howard Street and Martin Luther King Boulevard.
City officials are urging drivers to avoid blocking intersections in a way that can cause gridlock. It warned that "blocking the box" is a traffic violation that can lead to a $70 fine.
"The Department of Transportation is asking motorists who stop for a red light or a traffic delay to keep their vehicles behind the stop bar so that the intersection remains clear for pedestrians and cross traffic. Drivers should proceed through the intersection only when they see that its clear on the other side," Chopper said.
The Light Street work is continuing at a time when the city is also replacing the concrete surface of Pratt Street, downtown's main eastbound artery, closing two of four lanes in the central business district. That work is expected to continue for another two months, Chopper said. The city has advised motorists to use Baltimore and Mulberry streets as alternate routes.
City officials say the downtown road work being done to prepare the streets for the Grand Prix race will continue for about nine months. The work on Pratt and Light streets will be followed by repaving of Lee, Conway, Howard and Russell streets.
According to city transportation officials, the repaving and utility repairs being done to prepare the streets to accommodate Indy-style race cars is work that needed to be completed with or without the race.