South Bend’s Smart Streets were officially opened Friday with a ribbon cutting and ceremonial bike ride.
The project was announced in 2013, construction happened 2016. It turned the downtown streets from one-way to two-way added bike paths, sidewalks and roundabouts.
Public Works director Eric Horvath said the new streetscape is a big change for South Bend.
“To have a strong vibrant city it’s really more than having vehicles fly through the center of your downtown.”
South Bend Mayor Pete Buttegieg championed the project. He said now that it’s finished, people have to learn how to use it.
“There’s an educational process and in order to have smart streets deliver what it could we need to make sure we’re spreading the street smarts that all of us know how to use it. But I have every confidence that this community is ready to have the downtown streetscape that it deserves”
The project still faces backlash from people who feel it has made traversing South Bend more difficult.
Buttegieg said the challenges are worth it for the economic boon, and recognition Smart Streets brings to the city.
“While we care about traffic a great deal and we’re certainly taking the best practices of infrastructure and travel planning into account, fundamentally this is not a traffic project, this is an economic development project.”
The grand opening event concluded with a ceremonial bike ride around the new bike paths.