Get used to the barriers and heavy equipment along U.S. 20 east.
The upgrade of the roadway, east of C.R. 17 to S.R. 15, is going to take longer than anticipated, finishing in mid-2015, according to the Indiana Department of Transportation. It was originally scheduled to finish this coming fall.
In explaining the delay, Tony Mayo, communications and customer service director at the Indiana Department of Transportation's Fort Wayne office, said it took longer than expected to acquire the land needed to permit the expansion. U.S. 20 east of C.R. 17 is to be widened from two lanes, one going in each direction, to five lanes, two travel lanes each way with a center turn lane.
The work, meant to reduce congestion along the busy roadway, the main connector between Elkhart and Middlebury, started, in earnest, last August. After taking a break for the cold winter weather, work resumed March 24.
Here are particulars from INDOT of what to expect:
- The most immediate focus is around the dip just west of S.R. 15, called Getz ditch. The embankment will be reinforced to permit removal of "unsuitable soils and culvert replacement," INDOT spokeswoman Laurel McCurdy said in an email. Ditch, storm sewer and retention basin work will occur simultaneously.
- A barrier between the U.S. 20 travel lanes and the work zone around Getz ditch will soon be extended farther west to around C.R. 21 on the east side of Elcona Country Club. That will permit construction and widening of the roadway on the south side of the existing corridor.
- Widening on the north side of U.S. 20 in the C.R. 21-S.R. 15 section will follow later in the summer, with the upgrade in that stretch to be done by the fall.
- Because of the ongoing work, the speed limit in the C.R. 21-S.R. 15 section is 40 mph with 11-foot wide lanes. The speed limit in the C.R. 19-C.R. 21 section is also 40 mph, but there's no change to lane width.
- The upgrade west of C.R. 21 to around C.R. 17 is to be done by the middle of the summer next year.
The project has a price tag of $9.8 million, and Niblock Excavating of Bristol is handling the work. More than 10 structures along U.S. 20 had to be demolished to make way for the expanded roadway, and some living in the section expressed concern ahead of the project, worried that a wider thoroughfare will mean even more traffic.