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Thursday, April 24, 2014

Goshen traffic projects are coming down the road

Goshen leaders united in asking the state to build a new route for U.S. 33 east of downtown, and they're looking ahead to extending the South Peripheral Road in a few years while this year, they're making street changes that will affect post-office patrons.
Justin Leighty
Posted on May. 22, 2012 at 1:00 a.m.

GOSHEN — Three transportation projects in the works in Goshen will have differing impacts on people.

One, work on First Street will change the route for postal patrons this year. The extension of Waterford Mills Parkway will change traffic patterns on the city’s south side. The long-awaited improvements to U.S. 33 could clear most of the through traffic out of downtown and provide a route for traffic that doesn’t see trains cutting off a major highway periodically every day.

Transportation problems affect nearly everyone who lives in, works in or passes through Goshen. “We’ve been fortunate to have as much economic growth as we’ve had, even though transportation flow isn’t one of our strengths,” said Mark Brinson, community development director for the city.

Dave Daugherty, head of the Goshen Chamber of Commerce, said last week that he’s hopeful for the U.S. 33 project. “It will move trucks, which is important. It will move traffic,” Daugherty said.

Brinson said that project and the south road project will help make Goshen more attractive to business.

“By improving access to the south side of Goshen, where most of our industrial parks are located, that would put us in a better position to be competitive,” Brinson said Monday.

It’s not a fast change, though. “It is a very slow process, especially when you’re developing new roads and expanding major thoroughfares in existing urban areas. That becomes much more challenging,” he said.

First Street

First Street will close north of Pike Street in mid-June for infrastructure improvements, according to Mary Cripe, city engineer. That will mean changes for people leaving the Goshen Post Office. Work’s under way to move postal storage off of what will become the new temporary exit for the post office and to lay pavement down for that exit.

The process has taken a month longer than expected, according to Rhonda Yoder, city planner, because of the complex land transfers needed for the temporary roadway and changes to the layout of postal property.

It’s the start of a multi-year effort to improve water and sewer lines and roads in the Historic Dickerson Landing neighborhood, though this year’s project is the one that will likely have the most traffic impact for people who don’t live in the neighborhood.

Waterford Mills Parkway

The link between the dead-end of the first phase of the Waterford Mills Parkway and S.R. 15 is in the planning stages, with the city working with land owners and the Indiana Department of Transportation to set the stage for construction.

The road is scheduled for construction in two years, and all the work should be done by the end of 2014, “at least that’s what we hope,” Cripe said.

The roadway will provide an overpass over the railroad tracks. The city’s long-range plans call for an eventual extension of the road west of S.R. 15, across the river and linking to C.R. 17 to provide truck traffic an easy link to the Indiana Toll Road.

U.S. 33 Upgrades

The other key project is improvements to U.S. 33 from downtown Goshen to the southeast, adding travel lanes and, residents hope, a railroad crossing.

The project has been on the drawing boards for decades. Right now, “the City of Goshen and INDOT are considering options and no decision has been made yet,” said Mary Foster, spokeswoman for the Indiana Department of Transportation’s Fort Wayne district, citing information from Robert Alderman, deputy district commissioner.

“Possibly in late June another meeting will take place to continue the dialog on what is the best option,” Foster said.

During public meetings at Goshen High School several years ago, INDOT planners said they’d narrowed the options to two: Either widening Madison Street east of Main Street, or building a north connector route along the main railroad tracks with an overpass over the north-south tracks and Lincoln Avenue. It would run from east of Goshen High School to the intersection of Main and Pike streets. That option is the most expensive, but it’s also the only one with a guaranteed railroad crossing.

Last week Mayor Allan Kauffman confirmed his support for that option, and the Goshen City Council unanimously voiced its support, citing improvements for the affected neighborhoods and for the business community.

The Goshen Community Schools board will be asked for its support at its meeting next week, Cripe said.

INDOT’s plans call for construction in 2015 and 2016 for the effort. Depending on the option chosen, road improvements could run from downtown to either College Avenue, Kercher Road or even as far as C.R. 40

The budget for the project is just shy of $33.7 million. “The project would improve mobility on U.S. 33 through Goshen which currently functions very poorly during peak hours,” according to the project fact sheet from INDOT.

If U.S. 33 shifts out of the heart of downtown, Daugherty said he’d like to see the downtown route retain an alternate U.S. 33 designation.

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