Tribune-Star staff report
TERRE HAUTE —
Just in time for the Indiana State University homecoming, Wabash Avenue is back open to traffic.
The project was expected to take 90 days but is wrapping up this week after only about 60 days. Only painting traffic stripes on the road and some curb and sidewalk work remains, said Chuck Ennis, city engineer.
“All we’re waiting for is one nice, sunny day so we can finish it up,” he said.
Wabash Valley Asphalt, the general contractor, began repairing and resurfacing Wabash Avenue from 13th Street to 25th Street on July 31. The $1.2-million project was expected to take three full months, but it took about only two months.
“They’re way ahead of schedule,” Ennis said.
Before the repair work, Wabash Avenue had a rippling, “washboard” effect in the pavement. Those car-jarring ripples were caused by a rotting rail bed under the surface.
“The wood ties were rotting,” Ennis said. “As they would rot, the pavement above it would sink. So what you were driving over was a washboard of rotting ties.”
Because this project removed the old rail bed, it is a much more permanent fix, the city engineer said.
When the project started, city officials expected to find steel interurban rail tracks under the road, but they were not there. While the city hoped to cash in the rails for scrap value, their absence allowed workers to finish faster than expected.
Interurban rail service, consisting of electric trolleys and trains, existed in Terre Haute from about 1892 until 1939.