GOSHEN — A peanut-shaped roundabout emerged as the best of seven options for improving a tricky intersection southeast of Elkhart.

Plans to fix the out-of-alignment double intersection of C.R. 13, C.R. 18 and C.R. 115 are in the design phase, according to Elkhart County Highway Engineer Kent Schumacher. The intersection is a mix of one-way and all-way stops, as one road T’s in from the south and another T’s in from the north a few yards away, and has long been the subject of complaints from drivers as well as nearby schools and churches.

Schumacher said the hope is to have the improvements done in 2021, before construction starts the following year on two nearby railroad overpasses.

The total project cost is expected to be about $2.1 million, which is covered by an 80-20 matching federal grant. 

The county hired the Troyer Group for preliminary engineering services in October, following a study of the intersection, and approved a contract amendment Monday. The extra $50,000 covers expanding the scope of the project and brings the total cost up to $308,000.

Schumacher said the additions include both vertical and horizontal grade improvements on the approaches to the intersection.

A study looked at seven design alternatives, including some with traffic signals and some with a roundabout. Schumacher told the commissioners in October that a stoplight wouldn’t be as safe or efficient as a traffic circle.

In the preferred option, C.R. 13 and C.R. 115 are still offset from one another but the stop signs are all removed and traffic flows around an elongated, oval-shaped island that’s pinched in the middle. He said the design involves the least amount of property acquisition.

“It incorporates both those intersections into one,” he said. “Normally these (roads) come in opposite each other. But since they’re offset ... this would incorporate it with minimal right of way acquisition.”

He said the design phase is about a third of the way through, and the county can start moving toward right-of-way acquisition after a public hearing scheduled for Sept. 12. The time and location will be announced later.

He said the project will be put out for bids in February 2021 and construction would start that spring. The intersection is part of a planned detour route when railroad overpasses are built at both Hively Avenue and Sunnyside Avenue, so the hope is to have it done before those two projects start, he said.

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