City holds public forum on U.S. 33 plans
Posted: 02/26/2013 at 7:00 pm
By: Nick Wesman
Approximately 40 residents atended Tuesday’s meeting at the Rieth Interpretive Center, led by city engineer Mary Cripe. Cripe detailed some background of the project before explaining the plan the Indiana Department of Transportation now favors.
The new route would deviate from U.S. 33 at the intersection with East Monroe Street across from Goshen High School. This route, referred to as the north connector, would continue running north until reaching the west side of the train tracks to bypass downtown before connecting again with U.S. 33 near the north end of the city.
The project would also require an overpass be built over Lincoln and Cottage avenues, affecting several residential properties and small businesses.
Residents were encouraged to ask questions, and many did.
One significant area of dicussion became the debate about making the new route two- or four-laned. As the proposal sits now, the route would still be two lanes. Cripe said she believes traffic flow would not be an issue despite the road being just two lanes because fewer traffic signals on the new route would allow for more free-flowing traffic.
Dr. James Nelson Gingerich, co-chair of the East Lincoln Crossroads Neighborhood Association, the area most effected by the route, raised his concern about the overpass walls seemingly cutting off one neighborhood from the rest of the community.
“One of the things that I wonder about is, it’s a little hard to visualize what a 20-something-foot wall right through the middle of our town is going to feel like and look like,” Gingerich said. “It accentuates a division — ‘the tracks’ — that’s already there culturally.”
Cripe noted that the overpass wall was also a concern of the city’s and said they would be looking at different ways to improve the wall’s aesthetics.
Throughout the meeting, both Cripe and Mayor Allan Kauffman continued to emphasize that the north connector route is INDOT’s project, not the city’s, and that no plans are set in stone just yet.
“These plans are preliminary plans,” Cripe explained, “and (INDOT’s) going to be working towards developing the final plans, so we don’t have all the information.”
She said that the city felt it still needed to let residents know what could be coming in the near future.
“I think it’s worth saying at this point that these are conceptual plans at this point,” Kauffman added. “We just want the community to know kind of where INDOT is headed but a lot of these details need to be worked out.”
A final decision on the route U.S. 33 will take will be made sometime this summer. Construction is scheduled to begin in 2016.