LIMA - The closing of Eastown Road to all through traffic began Monday. Businesses along the road will still be open, and barricades will be placed on Eastown so that customers and local residents can get through.
However, according to the Allen County Engineer's Office Web site, the bridge north of Musser Drive also closed June 9, so those south of the bridge are advised to use Allentown Road. Traffic will be allowed up to the bridge, but will not be able to cross it. Residents north of the bridge should use Elida Road for access.
According to Mark Stockman, chief deputy engineer of the Eastown Road project, extensive maintenance will be completed during the closing: The road will be widened from two to five lanes; the railroad tracks will be widened; the bridge will be replaced; new stop lights will be installed at Elida Road; and new water lines, storm drains and sanitary sewers will also be installed.
"Right now the plan is to hopefully reopen the road sometime between Thanksgiving and Christmas to let some of the holiday traffic through," Stockman said. "However, that depends completely on the weather. If we are able to get the bottom layers of asphalt down, then we will be able to reopen it somewhere in that range."
If all goes according to plan, Eastown would then close again to allow for the final layer of asphalt to be placed. Stockman expects the grand reopening of Eastown Road to be Oct. 1, 2009.
Neely Road will also be closed at Eastown Road, but Stockman said both local residents and emergency vehicles will be granted access. All other traffic will not be able to gain access to Eastown from Baty or Neely, and should use Eastown at Elida Road (or Allentown Road.
The closing of Eastown Road will not only affect local residents and regular driving routes, but also area businesses.
Dan Dee of Dee's Overhead Door Co., 1650 N. Eastown Road, said he has been guaranteed personal access to his business, but anticipates the closing to affect tractor-trailers coming to unload necessary products.
"I don't get much drive-in traffic with my company," Dee said, "since most of it is phoned in."
Carol Wheeler, the president of Elida Building and Contracting Inc., 1720 Eastown Road, also said that most of her business is not based on customers driving in.
"We're not the kind of business people come directly to," Wheeler said, "but yes, it will definitely affect our trucks and equipment getting in here."
Wheeler said their trucks will now have to take Elida Road.
"Sure, it's going to take longer and use up more gas for those big ole' trucks," she said, "but I guess that's the price of progess."