By SHERRY VAN ARSDALL
THE GOSHEN NEWS
A crowd of around 40 Goshen residents contributed ideas and voiced their concerns about a proposed rerouting of U.S. 33 through Goshen Tuesday during a meeting at the Rieth Interpretive Center.
City engineer Mary Cripe said the Indiana Department of Transportation is considering a north connector route, which would move the existing U.S. 33 route off of Madison and Main streets to a new, elevated roadway that would parallel the Nortfolk-Southern railroad from Monroe Street to Pike Street.
The road would be a dedicated two-lane structure with a bridge over the railroad, Ninth Street, Lincoln Avenue and Cottage Avenue.
Goshen Mayor Allan Kauffman told the audience the north connector route, “Is a conceptual plan” with a lot of details pending before the final decision.
“It’s not decided yet and (INDOT) is going through some federal hoops to determine if that’s where they can go and planning an announcement sometime this summer. It’s certainly a tremendous impact, especially for the neighborhood it goes through,” Kauffman said. “There are pluses and minuses for the community. It’s an emotional issue for the people who are losing their properties and have an emotional attachment or grew up there. We understand that. They (INDOT) look at the whole community when they make a decision.”
Cripe said the construction could begin in 2016 and that property owners who might be affected by the project have been contacted.
INDOT officials clarified the number of parcels of property impacted, saying the project would “require the relocation of up to 40 parcels.” A preliminary map of the project shows about 50 properties being impacted in some way by the project.
“This is an INDOT project, not a city project,” Cripe said. “It’s not easy whatsoever. They haven’t made their final decision but heavily leaning toward the north connector route. These are preliminary plans and as we get more information, we’ll have more public information meetings.”
An audience member asked how much the project would cost.
“INDOT officials say they have $25 million budgeted for the project with construction, design and right of way acquisition,” Cripe said.
There were questions and concerns about the closing of some intersections and being pedestrian friendly.
Cripe said Fifth Street wouldn’t be much of an intersection with the new route and traffic would only be permitted to turn right.
“Main Street would be a signalized traffic intersection,” she said, “and the shift over to Main Street at the base of the overpass would be bicycle trail to make it accommodating for all modes of traffic.”
An audience member asked about the volume of traffic being free flowing through the overpass and would it be a big bottleneck at Main Street with a long line of traffic backing up to get up on it.
Cripe said, “the (traffic) lights are going to be synchronized and tied together to keep it flowing. I don’t know all the answers but that’s what I would anticipate.”
Another person asked how a 20-foot wall would look in the middle of town with the overpass and Cripe said, “We have those same concerns.”
She said there has been discussion with INDOT about having some type of landscape or ivy to create a buffer with the approaches on the overpass.
“It’s going to be a learning curve with everybody (with the project),” Cripe said.