People trying to turn onto High Street from Third Street found that route is no longer open to traffic as of Tuesday morning.

High Street is now blocked off between Third and Fourth Streets as construction begins on the Cass County Jail extension.

As covered by the Pharos-Tribune earlier, the initial work includes the county and Logansport Municipal Utilities moving sewer and water pipes from under the current parking lot — where the new jail expansion will go — to along High Street.

Logansport Mayor Chris Martin said that the city worked to help the traffic issue by improving the signage for people driving south across Third Street Bridge.

“It was hard to see when you’re coming across the bridge,” Martin said.

People were turning into the small section of High Street that leads to the new parking lot next to what’s left of Stonewall Park, thinking that the route through to High Street may still be open. The main parking lot at the jail is fenced off during construction.

But drivers can’t use the parking lot to go through the area and continue onto High Street.

Because of the jail construction, there will be traffic restrictions around the jail until about November, if the project remains on schedule.

Over the last year, Logansport residents and visitors have had a number of construction projects to navigate around.

Market Street Bridge was closed for an year-and-a-half until last month, Melbourne Avenue has been closed since last year for major storm and sewer work and High Street was repaved in early autumn.

West of town, the bridge over the Panhandle Trail on U.S. 24 was closed during late autumn.

Martin assured residents that the city will do what it can to make driving around the jail construction easier.

“Overall, it’ll get better. It always gets better,” Martin said. “We’ll make it as easy as possible.”

The jail expansion has been in the works for about three years. Cass County Commissioners President James Sailors said that the work is needed to alleviate overcrowding and that Cass County has been paying other facilities to house its inmates.

The only reason the county doesn’t have a federal mandate to build more jail space (or been hit with a lawsuit because of overcrowding) is because of that planning.

The current jail is about 50,000 square feet, and the addition will almost double it by adding another 47,000 square feet.

The number of beds will increase from 208 to 362.

Although the expansion will be built over some of the current 87 parking spots, the county has built new spaces on the west side of High Street — along the Eel River and using some of Stonewall Park — with roughly the same number of spaces the old lot contained.

That expansion plan caused some controversy and complaints because a 2013 Federal Emergency Management Agency report stated both the county building and the Cass County Jail should be relocated because of the flood plain there.

Sailors said the jail addition itself will be done sometime around spring to early summer of 2021.

However, that depends on weather, he cautioned.

Reach James D. Wolf Jr. at james.wolf@pharostribune.com or 574-732-5117. Twitter: @JamesDWolfJr

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