NAPPANEE — A new roundabout just outside of Nappanee has been a cause of concern for local farmers.
The roundabout will be placed at the intersection of S.R. 19, S.R. 119 and C.R. 44.
Dwight Moudy, public relations Director of the Elkhart County Farm Bureau, has stated that the bureau is opposed to the roundabout due to the high number of milk haulers who travel the intersection. Because the milk trucks have no baffles (devices used to restrain the flow of a fluid) due to contamination issues, the milk often shifts rapidly. The Farm Bureau fears that a roundabout is an unnecessary hazard on a road that is frequented by these high-risk trucks.
Moudy also said the same issue of safety has been risen for truckers carrying livestock, as the shift in weight from a roundabout could be dangerous. He estimates that truck drivers will need to slow from 55 to 10 mph to be safe on the roundabout.
The Farm Bureau is concerned that the high number of buggies that travel the road, combined with large trucks having to funnel into the same space, will slow down traffic.
Moudy says that he has not found another roundabout in this same traffic pattern in the country, and he doesn’t see why it is needed at all.
According to an INDOT engineer’s report “the current configuration of the signalized intersection can result in stopped southbound SR 19 traffic blocking the intersection of S.R. 19 and C.R. 44 and S.R. 119. The existing structure on S.R. 19 over Christopher Ditch is failing and has had temporary repairs made to it.There are several fractures and exposed reinforcing steel.”
There have been six accidents at the intersection from 2004 to 2007.
Appraising and purchasing the land has begun. Private contractors will be able to bid this fall.
“A lot of people are saying it’s a done deal. We are still the tax payers, and if you can show us that this will be safer, but right now it looks like an unnecessary test,” Moudy said.
Blake Doriot, Elkhart County Surveyor, said there have also been concerns about the current design.
“I don’t see how the large oversized loads are going to work going through that roundabout,” he said. “I think it is going to go through, I think the best thing we can do now is make some design changes to make it safer.”
George Reed, a Wakarusa farmer who travels the intersection regularly, said he would rather see the rough streets in Nappanee fixed. He called the roundabout “a big waste of money.”
INDOT estimates the total cost at just under $2 million, but this number may change in July.
Over a 20-year period the upkeep cost of a signal intersection is double what it would be for a roundabout.
INDOT had a meeting for stakeholders scheduled last week for them to share information with the interested parties regarding the roundabout. The meeting was cancelled when the media wished to attend the meeting.