Goshen News, Goshen, IN

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April 8, 2012

Will new highway prompt widening?

GOSHEN — Work on the intersection linking the new C.R. 17 to C.R. 38 on Goshen’s south side is set to kick off Monday, leaving many in the area to wonder just what the impact of that new intersection will be on the C.R. 38 corridor.

The link-up most likely will be a factor in the years-long dispute between county and city officials over how best to connect Goshen’s south side to C.R. 17.

By linking C.R. 38 to C.R. 17, county officials are hoping that a good portion of the drivers who typically cut through downtown Goshen via Ind. 15 on its way to and from the industrial park on Goshen’s southwest side, will now choose to use the C.R. 38-C.R. 17 intersection instead, thus reducing traffic congestion within the city.

City officials, while agreeing that such a redirection of traffic is needed, have long opposed the C.R. 38-C.R. 17 intersection plan, however, supporting instead a plan to connect C.R. 17 to C.R. 40 or a new road just south of C.R. 40.

The county’s current plan is to stop the four-lane C.R. 17 at C.R. 38 and extend a two-lane section south to C.R. 40.

The City Council has authorized the construction of a “South Link Road” from C.R. 27 to Ind. 15. Part of that road is completed and the link to Ind. 15 requires a bridge over the railroad that runs parallel to Ind. 15. City officials are working on the funding and necessary approvals for that last link.

Part of that project will widen Ind. 15 and provide a turn lane at C.R. 40 to allow drivers to more easily turn onto that road,  which runs through the Waterford community.

Two or four lanes?

With the work on the intersection starting, another question has arisen which has some businesses and residents along C.R. 38 concerned — will C.R. 38 be widened in order to accommodate all the new traffic that will soon be funneled to the road with completion of the C.R. 38-C.R. 17 intersection?

According to Rick Easton, engineering technician with the Elkhart County Highway Department, no plans are on the books calling for the widening of C.R. 38, which is now a two-lane road.

For such a widening plan to be warranted, Easton said county officials would most likely have to conduct a traffic study once the intersection is completed to determine if the traffic flow is within acceptable levels.

“I guess probably the first thing they’d need to do is wait until the C.R. 17-C.R. 38 corridor is done, and then do a traffic study and see what turns up,” Easton said. “Then, if it turns out something needs to be done, they can take it from there.”

Easton also indicated that no plans have been released on whether the C.R. 38 bridge over the Elkhart River — also a very narrow two-lane bridge — will be widened in order to accommodate the increased traffic flow.

“I haven’t seen anything on that,” Easton said.

Some like the change

Over at the Precision Diesel Service shop, 21825 C.R. 38, employee Jim Mangus said he is actually looking forward to the increased traffic flow the new C.R. 38-C.R. 17 intersection will undoubtedly funnel toward his business.

“I think once C.R. 17 is done to where people can come down and get off onto C.R. 38, it’s going to make it a lot better for business here,” Mangus said. “So I’m in favor of it.”

Nate Morr, a fellow employee at the shop, agreed.

“I think it’s a great idea, because it will eliminate just about all that traffic that goes through town now, the evening and the morning traffic,” Morr said. “Then at the same time, you have people working down here that want to avoid having to go through town. So that will be really nice. And it’s a straight shot to the other side of town, so that will be convenient going all the way up to Elkhart.”

At the same time, Morr said he does feel C.R. 38 needs to be widened in order to accommodate the expected increase in traffic flow.

“By building a big road like C.R. 17, if they don’t do something about this road it could get bad out here,” Morr said. “They’re going to have to widen it, because there will be a lot of semi-trucks coming down here after that intersection is finished.”

Linda Wilson, a resident at 20296 C.R. 38, wasn’t quite so optimistic about the expected increase in traffic flow, however.

“I’m really concerned about the semi-truck traffic,” Wilson said. “Hopefully that’s not an issue. I mean, the people drive so fast through here already, I’m kind of worried about what will happen.”

When asked about her opinion on widening the road, Wilson said she is afraid what such a widening would mean for the many homes and businesses already located very close to the current road.

“When people first started talking about possibly widening the road, I actually went out to my front yard and stepped it off to where I thought the road would come to, and it was very, very close to my house,” Wilson said. “So no, I’m not in favor of it.”

That said, Wilson added that if such a road widening could be shown to increase safety along the corridor, she would not fight it.

“If they’re going to allow all that traffic to come down this way anyway, then maybe, because it’s going to be so congested, and maybe if it was wider it would be safer,” Wilson said. “I’ve lived out here for 30 years, and when I first moved out here you could sit out for half an hour and never even see a car. Now, you can’t even cross the road to get your mail because the traffic is so bad. So I definitely have mixed emotions.”

According to Easton, current plans are to close C.R. 38 between C.R. 15 and C.R. 19 beginning Monday to allow construction to begin on the new intersection. He expects the intersection being completed and the road reopened to traffic by mid-July of this year.

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Last weekend (July 12) the Goshen Parks Department held its Kid’s Try-athlon to promote childhood fitness and this week (July 18) the new bicycle trail is open to the fairgrounds in Goshen, offering residents a healthy way to get to the annual agriculture exposition. Have you joined the local fitness movement?

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