An underpass in Dunlap near Concord High School may be the next big county project after construction wraps up on C.R. 38 and Kercher Bridge in 2016.
No solid plans have been drawn up yet, but the project could have C.R. 20 extend beyond U.S. 33 (where it currently ends) and curve into C.R. 13, becoming an underpass that travels beneath the Norfolk Southern railroad tracks and C.R. 45.
That’s according to Terry Rodino, president of the Elkhart County Board of Commissioners. He said a grade separation in the area has been lingering on the board’s to-do list for 10 or 12 years.
What’s a grade separation?
Essentially, it’s jargon for overpass or underpass.
The area is known for causing headaches thanks to frequent train traffic, especially for school bus drivers and students who regularly cross the tracks to get to and from Concord High School and Concord Intermediate School.
The Elkhart County Council earlier this month unanimously approved a request from the commissioners to use $250,000 from the major bridge fund to buy available properties in the area to make room for possible construction.
"If in fact that’s going to be our next major bridge project, we would like to put ourselves in the position to ask for property,” Tom Byers, county commissioner, told the council.
That includes the property at 23821 U.S. 33, which the commissioners hope to snap up at an upcoming foreclosure sale. It used to be an old bowling alley called Astro Bowl and was later turned into a night club called El Sarape.
If planning goes smoothly, it could be several years before crews break ground. The project would tentatively start once construction wraps up on C.R. 38 and Kercher Bridge in the fall of 2016, Byers told the council.
For now, owners of nearby businesses don’t need to worry about losing their property. The commissioners have no intention of asking up-and-running businesses to sell, Byers said.
A call to the Elkhart County Highway Department regarding the potential cost was unreturned at press time.
At this point, all plans are preliminary.
The Elkhart Truth will continue to follow this story as it develops.