Elkhart County leaders tout upcoming road projects

Many road projects are in the works and Elkhart County boosters dream of many more.
Posted on Aug. 13, 2013 at 1:00 a.m.

BRISTOL — There’s plenty of work taking place on the roads of Elkhart County.

Take a ride and you’ll probably run into an orange and white construction barrel or two.

The projects, planned or hoped-for, never end, though, and local leaders discussed some proposals still in the works at a gathering Tuesday Aug. 13. It was the annual Indiana Department of Transportation luncheon, sponsored by the Greater Elkhart Chamber of Commerce.

INDOT and chamber reps were on hand to talk, and here are some of the highlights:

Ÿ S.R. 19 corridor: Upgrades are in the works at three S.R. 19 intersections in Elkhart County — at C.R. 38 north of Wakarusa, S.R. 119 south of Wakarusa and C.R. 52 in northern Nappanee. A roundabout is planned for the S.R. 19-S.R. 119 crossing and a public hearing on the plans is set for Aug. 21. The two other crossings will remain traditional intersections, perhaps with the addition of turning lanes, according to Todd Johnson, a deputy INDOT commissioner and head of the Fort Wayne District office, which covers Elkhart County.

Work could start in 2015.

Ÿ C.R. 17: The chamber and other county leaders want C.R. 17 to be upgraded south of C.R. 38, all the way to U.S. 6 in southern Elkhart County, perhaps even to Warsaw in Kosciusko County.

Johnson, speaking after his formal presentation, said boosters would have to pitch their plans to get INDOT support and funds, competing with other projects proposals.

Whatever the case, it’s a priority for John Letherman, a member of the chamber’s Transportation Council and president of the Elkhart County Council. In discussing long-term project proposals, he called the hoped-for roadway the “Goshen to Warsaw expressway.”

It’d cost an estimated $25 million to upgrade C.R. 17 six miles south to U.S. 6, Letherman said, a lot, perhaps, to fund all at once. “But you do that a little bit at a time,” he said.

Either way, the county doesn’t have funds to pay for the project, hence interest in getting INDOT support.

Bit by bit, C.R. 17 has been upgraded to a major north-south arterial over the years, from the Michigan state line south to C.R. 38.

Ÿ U.S. 20: The widening of U.S. 20 from C.R. 17 east of Elkhart further east to S.R. 15 has already started. The section is to be widened from one lane of traffic in each direction to two, with a new center turn lane as well.

The chamber, though, would eventually like to see the busy roadway widened further east of S.R. 15 to Middlebury. Letherman said longer term, he’d like to see more — some sort of connector constructed from U.S. 20 around Middlebury to improve access from the community further north to the Indiana Toll Road.

Ÿ U.S. 33, Goshen: There’s been plenty of talk in recent years about upgrading U.S. 33 from the Goshen city center southeast to C.R. 40. Johnson said a public hearing on the project is to be held later this year.

In the meantime, INDOT is conducting environmental studies to help determine a “preferred alternative,” that is, an ideal corridor, according to Johnson.

The work is to be bid out in 2016.

The Elkhart chamber holds the annual meeting with INDOT reps to foster communication with the agency and support for local road projects. Before the formal presentations at Elcona Country Club, INDOT and chamber reps and others toured completed and pending road projects around Elkhart County.

The incoming INDOT commissioner, Karl Browning, also took part, among others.

View Upcoming Elkhart County Road Projects in a larger map


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