GOSHEN — How U.S. 33 winds through the city of Goshen may be changing, but before any dirt moves, the Indiana Department of Transportation wants to hear from the community.
A public hearing this week will put the spotlight on a major construction project that would reroute U.S. 33, moving the road farther east to the outskirts of the city’s historic district.
INDOT has studied multiple options for the project, including staying on the existing alignment with an underpass and an alternative known as the northern connector that reroutes U.S. 33 between Monroe Street and S.R. 15. Project engineers will outline preliminary plans for the northern connector alternative at a public meeting Thursday, March 20, at Goshen High School’s auditorium at 401 Lincolnway East. An informal open house session will start at 5:30 p.m., and a formal public hearing will begin at 6 p.m.
WHAT IS THE NORTHERN CONNECTOR PLAN?
U.S. 33 would divert from its existing alignment at Monroe Street and run across Madison and Jefferson streets. From there, the road would follow parallel to the Norfolk Southern Railroad tracks and curve west until connecting with Pike Street and linking up to the existing location of U.S. 33.
Overpasses would be built at Cottage Avenue, Lincoln Avenue and the Norfolk Southern railroad spur that runs north and south along the east side of Ninth Street. The Ninth Street railroad crossing would be closed.
The plan also includes a multi-use trail to line the southwest side of the new road between Fifth and Madison streets. The trail’s construction would require 26 acres of right-of-way and the displacement of 36 residential buildings and businesses. Right-of-way would have to be acquired before construction begins.
The proposed northern connector route is expected to cost between $20 million and $25 million, according to city engineer Mary Cripe.
WHAT ARE THE PROS AND CONS?
Cripe pointed out that the northern connector option has both pros and cons. For example, the northern connector alternative would reduce traffic on Main Street, and there would be no traffic signals on U.S. 33 between Madison and Pike streets. The existing route has seven traffic signals, she added.
“Traffic signals delay and slow down traffic,” Cripe said. “This will allow for free-flowing movement with no conflicts, which increases the safety of this corridor significantly.”
Cripe pointed out, however, using the existing alignment with a new underpass would cost $5 million to $7 million less than the northern connector route. She said it would also have a minimal impact on the baseball diamond across from Goshen High School. With the northern connector option, the baseball diamond would have to be relocated.
On the other hand, Cripe said the northern connector would be safer for children who have to cross Madison Street at the intersection of 8th Street. She said the current U.S. 33 alignment acts as a barrier between neighborhoods.
INDOT will collect comments at Thursday’s public meeting for review. The comments will be addressed and incorporated into the project’s final environmental assessment.
INDOT plans to start construction by spring 2016.
Proposed U.S. 33 Realignment Map
INDOT U.S. 33 Proposal
Follow Elkhart Truth reporter Angelle Barbazon on Twitter at @tweetangelle.