Goshen News, Goshen, IN

March 3, 2013

U.S. 33 reroute would free up possibilities for Main Street

By ROGER SCHNEIDER
THE GOSHEN NEWS

GOSHEN — The rerouting of U.S. 33 through Goshen would change traffic patterns for sure — and maybe also change how Goshen residents park downtown.

The reroute plan being considered would remove U.S. 33 from Main Street and move Ind. 15 traffic to Third Street.

“Main Street then becomes a local street,” said David Daugherty, Chamber of Commerce director. “So you can go to angled parking and keep 18-wheelers off Main. That’s nice.”

Daugherty knows plenty about the impact of noise and rumbles from constant truck traffic through town. His office in the Chamber building at Jefferson and Main street is only a few feet away from the passing big rigs.

The Indiana Department of Transportation is pondering if a north connector route or reworking the present route through the city, which includes Main Street, should be adopted. A decision is expected this summer.

A north connector road would begin at Madison Street near Goshen High School, run parallel to the Norfolk-Southern railroad and swing north to join Pike Street just north of downtown. That would mean all truck and through-traffic would be removed from Main Street, creating a much calmer, quieter atmosphere for shoppers and those using the local eateries. It would also create the possibility of adding more parking spaces by switching from curbside parallel parking to angled parking.

That’s something merchant Lyman Hug embraces.

“I think angle parking is long overdue,” Hug said while leaning on the counter of his ShutterHugs photo and framing shop along Main Street. “It would really help with the parking problem.”

As Goshen’s downtown has evolved into a restored historic district, it has become a destination for people all across Michiana who want to shop, dine and attend entertainment events.

Makes sense

The city government has already created angled parking along both sides of Washington Street in the blocks just east and west of Main Street. But expanding that type of parking to Main Street hinges on INDOT accepting the north connector route. If the widening of the current route is selected, U.S. 33 and Ind. 15 would remain on Main Street.

According to City Engineer Mary Cripe, if the north connector route is selected, that would end up in a rerouting of traffic on two state routes. Ind. 15 traffic coming from the south would be directed to Third Street and Ind. 4 truck traffic coming in from the east and wanting to turn south, would also be moved to Third Street.

To Daugherty, the north connector route makes the most sense.

“Then you are not dividing the two historic neighborhoods,” he said, referring to the neighborhood south of Madison Street (U.S. 33) and the historic downtown district. “...It really allows you to improve the pedestrian environment downtown. And that is good.”

He said his only concern about a north connector route’s impact on downtown is that out-of-town motorists may miss seeing the historic buildings.

“We will have to make sure that we put up signs that direct drivers to Main Street,” Daugherty said. “But it will be so nice to get the truck traffic off Main Street.”

Once that traffic is gone, Daugherty thinks there are many possibilities for Main Street, including the removal of traffic signals and the creation of four-way stops.

“I think the whole traffic pattern downtown will change,” Daugherty said. “And I think it will change for the better.”

On Jefferson Street in front of the Chamber a small experiment in angled parking is occurring. Instead of the usual pull-in angled parking, the city government has a few spots set aside for back-in angled parking.

Mark Springer, one of the owners of Springer Designs on Main Street, said he has tried those back-in spots. After he helped a customer who parked in front of his store, popped open her car’s lift gate and brought in boxes of T-shirts for imaging, Springer looked toward the street and said of the current parallel parking, “It’s easy access to doors and trunks.”

Springer said his store’s staff often wheels carts of boxes to and from people’s cars and the parallel parking makes vehicle access convenient. He wondered if loading cars would be as easy with angled parking.

“The trade off is you get closer parking,” he said of the angled option. And, as angled parking is just an idea that hinges on many developments, Springer smiled and said, “We are open to everything.”

Mattern likes it

At Mattern’s Butcher Shop and Deli, Bill Mattern has already made up his mind about angled parking.

“We like the idea,” he said.

He said if trucks are removed from Main Street then downtown will become more friendly for pedestrians and there will be more parking spaces.

“We are kind of excited about that whole idea,” Mattern said.

Cripe indicated it’s too early in the highway planning process to delve into changes in downtown.

“None of that has been decided,” she said. “That will be a whole process unto itself to determine what needs to be down there.”

Mayor Allan Kauffman agreed, saying the issues on Main Street may not even be addressed until after he is out of office in 2016.

“Nothing it going to happen until U.S. 33 gets diverted and Ind. 15 is moved over to Third,” Kauffman said.

And he said whatever changes are made to Main Street parking will be governed by how much traffic is left on Main Street.