ELKHART — The Transportation Council of the Greater Elkhart Chamber of Commerce will host its annual Transportation Breakfast on Friday, Dec. 13. This year’s presentation will focus on U.S. 31 and the economic impact its continued improvements will have on our region and the state.
The Greater Elkhart Chamber, along with other chambers, economic development organizations, local governments and private businesses, formed the U.S. 31 Coalition over 25 years ago. The goal of the coalition is to develop an interstate-quality U.S. 31 from the U.S. 20 Bypass in South Bend to Interstate 465 in Indianapolis.
It is estimated that the new road will prevent 2,600 accidents and 12 fatalities per year and that completion of the full corridor will provide safety benefits totaling $2.6 billion.
The project will generate $5.3 billion in savings from reduced travel times, with a decline in vehicle hours of traffic of 4.3 percent. Travel time savings will lead to an estimated $454 million for Indiana trucks and $1.2 billion for car trips made for business purposes.
In 2013, the bypass around Kokomo in Howard County opened, saving drivers time – and money – on the trip to Indianapolis. In August 2014, the northern section of the new highway in St. Joseph County opened, and in 2015, the section in Hamilton County opened.
But there’s still more to do, according to the Elkhart Chamber. The sections between the construction projects are just as important and must be upgraded as well.
Dennis Faulkenberg, executive director of the U.S. 31 Coalition, will be the featured speaker as the organizations celebrate the completed improvements and learn more about the continuing plan.
The event will be at 8 a.m. at the Matterhorn Conference Center, 2041 Cassopolis St., Elkhart. The cost is $15 for members and elected officials and $25 for prospective members. Registrations can be made by calling the chamber at 574-293-1531 or at www.elkhart.org. Registration deadline is Tuesday, Dec. 10.