Goshen News, Goshen, IN

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February 10, 2013

City officials favor a ‘northern connector’ for re-route of U.S. 33 through Goshen

GOSHEN — A plan to reroute U.S. 33 through Goshen is gaining favor with state highway officials and, if implemented, would change the way traffic flows through and around the city.

The “north connector route” has been endorsed by the Goshen Chamber of Commerce and the Goshen City Council. Now it is up to the officials at the Indiana Department of Transportation to approve the route. According to city engineer Mary Cripe, that approval is getting closer.

“This is one of two options they are looking at,” Cripe said while reviewing a map of the proposed route in her office Monday.

The other option is the long-shelved plan to widen U.S. 33 (Madison Street) with an underpass at the Ninth Street railroad tracks and the closing of Eighth Street.

Cripe said she expects INDOT officials will make a final decision on the route this year. Property acquisition could begin in 2014 with construction getting under way in 2016, according to Cripe.

In years past, INDOT had proposed widening U.S. 33 to four and five lanes from C.R. 40 northwest all the way to Main Street. The widening of Madison is opposed by some Goshen residents who want to preserve a historic home at Fifth and Madison, and the First English Lutheran Church across the street. Nor do they want a four-lane road to bisect the Historic Southside Neighborhood-downtown link. There have also been concerns voiced about how a widened U.S. 33 (Madison Street) would impact the safety of children walking to and from Chandler Elementary School, which is located at Eighth and Madison streets.

Since the City Council and Chamber endorsed the north connector route, that plan has gained traction. Cripe said she feels INDOT officials are now favoring that route, but nothing is certain at this point.

So far Cripe has been the public voice of the project, despite U.S. 33 being under the control of INDOT.

“It’s not really a city project,” Cripe said, “but it is impacting us and the residents, so it is our business.”

The north route

Cripe said INDOT has about $35 million to spend on the Goshen project and the north connector route would cost $5 million to $7 million more than the Madison Street route. That means there is not enough money available to reconstruct U.S. 33 from C.R. 40 to Main Street. Instead, the north connector route would begin at Monroe Street, swing north through the right field of Goshen High School’s Phend Field baseball diamond and then parallel the Norfolk Southern railroad, cross Lincoln Avenue and Clinton Street before swinging northwest to connect to Pike Street at Fifth Street.

The road would be two-lanes, according to Cripe and would not have any other entrances or exits. She said the two-lane dedicated route would be enough to move U.S. 33 traffic efficiently.

Much of the roadway would be a bridge or elevated approaches to the bridge. The bridge would span three city streets, Ninth, Lincoln Avenue and Cottage Avenue. According to concept plans, the bridge would rise 34 feet at its highest point. Cripe said the approaches to the bridge would be earth-filled with straight walls.

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