By ROGER SCHNEIDER
THE GOSHEN NEWS
Indiana Department of Transportation officials have confirmed they are favoring the “north connector” route for U.S. 33 through Goshen.
According to INDOT spokeswomen Toni Mayo and Mary Foster, INDOT’s manager for the highway relocation said both INDOT and the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) are favoring the route after they reviewed a required environmental impact study.
The north connector route would move the existing U.S. 33 route off of Madison and Main streets to a new, elevated roadway that would parallel the Norfolk-Southern railroad through the city 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.
INDOT officials say they have $25 million budgeted for the project. In an article published Sunday the estimated cost of $35 million was attributed to city engineer Mary Cripe. The article should have stated that amount was for the original project from C.R. 40 to Main Street, not just the north connector route.
“The project alternatives considered have included improvements along the existing U.S. 33 alignment, including sub-alternatives with a median and grade separation at the Norfolk Southern Marion Branch rail spur, and new alignment options for a north connector — at grade alternative and a north connector — overpass alternative. FHWA and INDOT have committed to the NC alternative based on review of a Draft 4(f) evaluation,” INDOT officials said in an email response to questions from The Goshen News.
A Draft 4(f) evaluation is the government code for an assessment of a highway project that might impact historic buildings or places, public parks or wildlife areas. The study is used to determine if there are any feasible alternatives to a highway project, according to INDOT documents.
Concerns of some Goshen residents is that widening U.S. 33 along the Madison Street corridor and linking up with Main Street would bisect the historic areas of Goshen as well as directly impact First English Lutheran Church at Fifth and Madison streets and a historic home across the street from the church. That home is now owned by the city.
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.
INDOT officials said a final decision on which route to take through Goshen will be made this summer and property acquisition will begin toward the end of this year or in the first few months of 2014. Construction is scheduled to begin early in 2016 and may take as long as two years, according to the INDOT officials.
Once a route is chosen this summer, INDOT will hold public hearings on the proposed project.