GOSHEN — Getting to the fairgrounds this year will remain the same as it always has, but changes are coming that will make the site more easily accessible in the future.
A collaborative effort between the state of Indiana, Elkhart County and the city of Goshen will result in the Monroe Street Trail that will run from the intersection with U.S. 33 all the way down to Gate 5 of the fairgrounds. The trail will allow cyclists and pedestrians an alternative to driving to the fairgrounds and parking.
In addition, 80 percent of the project will be federally funded through transportation enhancement funds.
The trail will run along Monroe Street on the north side until reaching Blackport Drive, where it will cross Monroe and then run along the south side of the street until it meets Gate 5.
The project first got under way late last year, but involved parties have delayed construction until after the fair so as not to disrupt the heavy flow of traffic during the nine-day event.
Soon after the fair ends, work will begin on both the trail and the Monroe Street Bridge. Cripe said she believes only a few relocations are necessary at this point before everything is ready to go, including a few NIPSCO utility poles, a fence owned by OmniSource and a handful of signs.
The city recently also completed the relocation of a water main in order to prepare for work on the path.
Construction of the trail was originally slated for early August, but has since been pushed back likely until September, said Mary Cripe, Goshen’s civil engineer.
Still, Cripe said she hopes work can still be completed by early December, as previously hoped.
In conjunction with the construction of the Monroe Street Trail, the county will be building the Monroe Street Bridge over Rock Run Creek.
In order to construct the bridge, Monroe Street will be closed starting Aug. 5. Tom Rushlow, Elkhart County Highway Department engineer, said he county hopes the bridge will be complete and the street will be open by Dec. 6, though he added the beginning of construction hinges on NIPSCO’s relocation of some materials.
While Monroe Street is closed, Cripe said a clearly marked detour around the construction will send travelers from Logan Street to Ninth Street to Lincoln Avenue and onto Blackport Drive.
She added that signage for the detour will be clear on how to get to the fairgrounds, since the site will continue to host various groups and events while the trail and bridge are under construction.
To prepare Blackport Drive, which was built in a wetlands area, for the increased traffic load it will bear while Monroe Street is closed, the city took time before the start of the fair to repair the road.