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Fortville construction puts staple diner at risk of closure, fire department also impacted

Broadway Diner has been around for nearly 40 years, they say business has dropped more than 50% since construction started
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Posted at 11:27 PM, Sep 25, 2023
and last updated 2023-09-27 15:14:13-04

FORTVILLE-- Construction is months behind schedule on a major road which travels straight through Fortville. It's impacting neighbors, businesses, and the fire department.

"It really is chaos and unfortunate incident what's happening with all this mayhem and construction,” Fortville resident Andrea McCaughey said.

INDOT last said the project was expected to be completed in July, but the first half of construction still isn't complete. Construction crews are still working along Broadway in Fortville.


The Vernon Township Fire Chief tells WRTV that firefighters have been able to go to all areas they cover, but it's taking them longer to get there.

Chief Elder said any time there's construction it will have an impact on travel and the amount of time it takes to arrive.

The Chief's full statement is below:

I understand there are concerns about the Vernon Township Fire Department being able to respond to different areas of the community impacted by the road construction. I want to confirm that to date the department has been able to respond to all areas that we cover.

Yes, there will be a difference in the response time than before the construction. Anytime there is road construction in any community it will have an impact on routes of travel and amount of time it takes to arrive. Our crews are notified anytime there is a road closure or opening and they make the determination on the best route of travel to take based on where the call is.
Vernon Township Fire Chief, Mike Elder

"I hope it's over soon,’” Chasity Despain a server at Broadway Diner in Fortville told WRTV.

Businesses say it's impacting their ability to stay open and neighbors are frustrated by the semis driving through their downtown neighborhood.


Despain says she posts daily to the diner's Facebook page of what the construction status is.

It's causing a headache, she says, because it's constantly changing. She adds there is little communication misconstruction crews as to what roads will be closed.

"You have to drive 5 miles out of town and take the country to get back here to the diner," Despain said.

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She says it's cut her tips about 70%.

“Business is probably down between 50 to 60%, over 50 for sure,” Adam Fuchs a co-owner of Broadway Diner added.

It's a headache neighbors say they're tired of with the main thoroughfare in and out of town closed to one way traffic.

“Phones ringing off the hook, they are coming in quickly, eating, rushing out because they have a half hour. It’s a good vibe around here, but lately it's been hard,” Despain added.

Despain says the lunch rush there is normally a line out the door, but since construction started in April, businesses has been slow.

At lunch time Monday nearly every table sat empty.

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The diner is a family-owned staple in Fortville for nearly 40 years, bought by Fuchs and his mom 19 years ago. Their business survived a fire and Covid, but now theyr'e unsure they'll make it through construction.

"If something doesn't happen quick, we've been here 19 years, we won't make it through winter. There's no way. It's just facts of the matter,” Fuchs told WRTV.

INDOT told WRTV that when this project finished, Broadway will be safer for cyclists and pedestrians.

As far as a timeline for the projects completion, INDOT sent the following statement.

The project on U.S. 36 in Fortville is being completed through phased construction, meaning construction is completed in segments. The first phase ended in July when Madison St. and Walnut St. were reopened. The current phase of construction is expected to continue through mid-November, when newly-constructed eastbound and westbound lanes will open to traffic. At that time, all northbound side streets will be closed for installation of storm sewer and new waterline. All southbound lanes will be open with the exception of Maple Street, it will remain closed until November 2024. The storm sewer and new waterline work is anticipated to be complete in November 2024, weather permitting.

INDOT has also been in communication with the town and first responders on a weekly basis regarding progress and traffic changes, and will continue to do so in the future to ensure the safety of local residents and the motoring public. Specifically, there have been attempts to reopen local streets to provide improved mobility in the area of construction, but have not been successful due to safety concerns.

Through traffic should use the signed, official detour route, which follows U.S. 36 to State Road 234 to State Road 9 to U.S. 36 . Motorists may plan their routes using INDOT’s TrafficWise map/app at INDOT Customer Service may be reached at 855-463-6848 or with questions or concerns.

Let me know if you have any further questions!