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Nowhere to go; woman in wheelchair concerned about access

SOUTH BEND, Ind. – Bertha Brown knows exactly when construction begins every morning outside her home on Diamond Avenue.

She can hear the big machines powering up and feel the vibration of the movement in front of her home.

But according to her, those are the least of her concerns. She just hopes she does not need to escape her home or need emergency assistance while construction is underway.

Brown has these concerns because all that is left of Diamond Avenue is a dirt trough. The sidewalks that once ran the length of her yard have been turned to rubble.

Certainly, given enough time, she could leave her home in her powered wheelchair; but the furthest she would get would be the end of her driveway.

Monday, crews dug deep trenches in front of Brown’s home and several of her neighbors.

They are working on a large sewer project for the city.

For a short period of time, the homes would be cut off from access to what is left of the street.

With her health in question, Brown was nervous.

The company doing the work¸ HRP Construction, shared that nervousness.

Paul Harbron is the project manager for the work being done on Diamond Avenue.

He told us, months of planning goes into every project with a focus on serving the residents first, along with the needs of the city.

Extra attention is given to make sure there are contingency plans in place for all residents with special needs, according to Harbron.

“All of the good you try to do on a project can be taken away in one fell swoop,” said Harbron.

The work done on Monday out front of Brown’s home resulted in no complications, but there is more still to be done.

As the trenches are dug further and further down the street, alternative access points for emergency vehicles will be needed.

That has left Brown anxious, but she understands the work needs to be done.

“I know it’s impossible but I wish it was done tomorrow,” said Brown.

According to HRP the project is on schedule and it will still be a few weeks before the section of Diamond Avenue in front of Brown’s home will be paved again.

Until then, crews will continue to update the people living along Diamond Avenue with weekly, and sometimes daily, newsletters telling them what to expect out of upcoming construction.

The project is expected to be fully completed in November.

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