The Newman Road rail underpass has been targeted by West Lafayette and Purdue University. The rail underpass is too narrow and too low to accommodate trucks trying to get to Purdue's aerospace district. (Photo: Dave Bangert/Journal & Courier)
The Newman Road rail underpass has been targeted by West Lafayette and Purdue University. The rail underpass is too narrow and too low to accommodate trucks trying to get to Purdue's aerospace district. (Photo: Dave Bangert/Journal & Courier)
WEST LAFAYETTE – Last time the Newman Road underpass – an arched, one-lane throwback on the edge of the Purdue Airport – was in the news, it was one reason why a Jeff Bezos-owned spaceflight manufacturer took a pass on a plant on the edge of campus in West Lafayette.

The Amazon founder took 350 jobs and a 400,000-square-foot Blue Origin facility, capable of building 30 rocket engines a year, to Huntsville, Alabama, in June 2017.

Months later, West Lafayette officials revealed that the aerospace section of Purdue’s new Discovery Park District was in the final four for the Washington-based company’s newest facility.

They also revealed that the days were numbered for the Newman Road underpass, which at 11-foot-2 tall at its maximum and one-lane wide under the tracks of the Kankakee, Beaverville & Southern Railroad made it impossible to get truck traffic from Indiana 26 to Purdue’s Zucrow labs and the 176 acres of Discovery Park District being marketed to aerospace companies.

This week, the West Lafayette board of works signed off on an agreement that should change that by getting rid of the stone arch with a project set to start in 2020. 

The plan is to spend up to $12.5 million on a new underpass and reconstruct Newman Road, from Indiana 26 to Benson Drive. The project will include room for two lanes, plus bike lanes.

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